Accepted paper:

Rwanda: Healing and the aesthetic of poetry


Andrea Grieder (University of Zurich & EHESS Paris)

Paper short abstract:

My presentation explores the aesthetic of poetic writing/speaking in Rwanda as a way of dealing with Genocide destruction.

Paper long abstract:

In Rwanda, Genocide destroyed bodies and minds, human beings have been cut in peaces, deliberately. The sociocultural conception of illness and health is central to understand the meaning of this violence to the survivors. Traditionally, the individual and the collective body is conceptualised through the metaphor of flow and blockage. Which ways of coping are used in Rwanda to repair the peaces of bodies and minds? As a royal tradition and everyday metaphoric way of speaking, poetry is a culturally authorized form of dealing with traumatic experiences of genocide. It plays an important role in speaking and writing about the genocide in Rwanda. Drawing on my ethnographic research, my presentation explores how poetic writing in Rwanda deals with the destruction on the individual and collective body. I argue that we can identify an aesthetic of poetic writing in Rwanda that can be seen as a form of healing of genocide destruction.

panel P46
Aesthetics of healing and the body in a globalising world