Kristin Conner Doughty examines how Rwandans navigated the combination of harmony and punishment in grassroots courts purportedly designed to rebuild the social fabric in the wake of the 1994 genocide. Postgenocide Rwandan officials developed new local courts ostensibly modeled on traditional practices of dispute resolution as part of a broader national policy of unity and reconciliation. The three legal forums at the heart of Remediation in Rwanda—genocide courts called inkiko gacaca, mediation committees called comite y'abunzi, and a legal aid clinic—all emphasized mediation based on principles of compromise and unity, brokered by third parties with the authority to administer punishment. Doughty demonstrates how exhortations to unity in legal forums served as a form of cultural control, even as people rebuilt moral community and conceived alternative futures through debates there. Investigating a broad range of disputes, she connects the grave disputes about genocide to the ordinary frictions people endured living in its aftermath.
Remediation in Rwanda is therefore about not only national reconstruction but also a broader narrative of how the embrace of law, particularly in postconflict contexts, influences people's lives. Though law-based mediation is framed as benign—and is often justified as a purer form of culturally rooted dispute resolution, both by national governments such as Rwanda's, and in the transitional justice movement more broadly—its implementation, as Doughty reveals, involves coercion and accompanying resistance. Yet in grassroots legal forums that are deeply contextualized, law-based mediation can open up spaces in which people negotiate the micropolitics of reconciliation.
Introduction. Harmony Legal Models and the Architecture of Social Repair
Chapter 1. Silencing the Past: Producing History and the Politics of Memory
Chapter 2. Escaping Dichotomies: Grassroots Law in Historical and Global Context
Chapter 3. Gacaca Days and Genocide Citizenship
Chapter 4. Comite y'Abunzi: Politics and Poetics of the Ordinary
Chapter 5. The Legal Aid Clinic: Mediation as Thick Description
Chapter 6. Improvising Authority: Lay Judges as Intermediaries
Conclusion. Legal Architectures of Social Repair
"A timely and thoughtful reflection on the global emergence of transitional justice, the discourse of reconciliation, and the complex politics of victimhood in post-genocide Rwanda."—Kimberly Theidon, Tufts University
"Remediation in Rwanda is a beautifully written and profoundly vivid postwar study of the complexities of violence and its aftermath that chronicles what comes next in the wake of a brutal civil war and in the context of international participation in economic and political restructuring. Kristin Doughty documents the horrors of state coercion and the nuances of individual consent."—Kamari Clarke, author of Fictions of Justice: The ICC and the Challenges of Legal Pluralism