Media Representation of the Rwandan Genocide

1202 WordsJul 17, 20185 Pages
This article considers how the representation of events in the news can serve to shape public opinion or discourage statesmanship. Through the example of the Rwanda Genocide my argument is that representation is constitutive of the ways in which we understand the world and of the hierarchy that currently exists within mainstream media. As (Michael J. Shapiro, 1989) discussed ‘The reason for looking at representational practices in relation to texts, language and modes of interpretation is because it is through these practices that ideas about International Relations are produced’. Through the media coverage on the Rwanda Genocide I investigate how a lack of representation can limit the study and practice of International Relations.…show more content…
A large number of Rwandans could not read or write and, as a result, radio was an important way for the government to deliver messages to the population. In March 1992, Radio in Rwanda was first used in directly promoting the killing of Tutsi and as a disseminating source of propaganda. The media often relied heavily on half-truths and sometimes-outright lies and threats to define who the enemy was and why retaliation should proceed. This failure on the part of party officials and media to stem the progress into the abyss contributed significantly to fuelling a climate of intolerance and turned them into agents of destruction of Rwandan society. (Sibomana 1999: 49). The Western media thus has the power to ‘transform a crisis from one that is at micro level hardly noted by decision-makers, to one that is at macro level and receiving higher priority’(Auerbach and Bloch-Elkon 2005: 16). As embodied within the Rwandan Genocides, political events are representative of contemporary global politics, and belong to a precise history of colonialism. (Mamdani, 2002, 498). ‘Contained within the fabrication and procreation of global politics is the interpretation of what the genocide might mean’ (Evans, 1999, 3). Naturalizing the Western ideal of sovereignty is the concept of ‘failed’ or ‘failing’ states and the separation between that which is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This
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