Australian Journal of French Studies

Mobilising Memory: Rwandan Women Genocide Survivors in the Diaspora

Australian Journal of French Studies (2018), 55, (1), 52–64.


This article examines the testimonial literature of Rwandan women genocide survivors living in the diaspora, focusing in particular on the testimonies of Esther Mujawayo. Taking as its starting point Madelaine Hron’s Translating Pain (2009), which analyses the sociocultural dimensions of pain in narratives of immigrant suffering, this article explores the ways Rwandan women seek to negotiate a space within which to tell their stories in their host communities and the process of “cultural translation” that this inevitably entails. It will consider the strategies Rwandan women adopt to translate their experiences of trauma and displacement, as well as their role as public witnesses in the host society. As authors, educators and activists, these women are mobilising memory about the genocide, raising awareness for the continuing plight of survivors in Rwanda, and acting in solidarity with victims of other forms of violence and suffering, which I suggest points to an “altruism born of suffering” among Rwandans in the diaspora.

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Author details

Gilbert, Catherine