Africa at Noon on April 23, 2014

headshot1_original)Burning Truth. Testimony, Transition and Gacaca Trials in Rwanda

Bert Ingelaere
Postdoctoral Research Fellow-FWO
University of Antwerp/KU Leuven, Belgium

Time and Loca­tion

12:00pm, 206 Ingra­ham Hall, 1155 Obser­va­tory Drive, Madi­son, WI

Download poster (pdf)


Rwandan society recently (2005-2012) experienced one of the boldest experiments in transitional justice: the gacaca process. Based on over 35 months of fieldwork in rural Rwanda, I focus on the functioning and impact of the modernized gacaca court system that dealt with 1,958,634 cases of alleged participation in the Rwandan genocide. I will examine and qualify the Rwandan proverb that “truth passes across fire without burning” signifying that the truth always triumphs. The notion of truth takes center stage in the analysis since it emerged as primordial in the empirical analysis of the design and practice of the court system as well as in the experience of the Rwandans practicing gacaca.


Bert Ingelaere is post-doctoral research fellow from the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) at the Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB), University of Antwerp and affiliated with the Centre for Research on Peace and Development (CRPD), KU Leuven. He is currently visiting post-doctoral fellow at the Program on Order, Conflict and Violence (OCV), Yale University. He has studied philosophy as well as social and cultural anthropology at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) and holds a PhD in Development Studies, University of Antwerp. Previously, he was a researcher for the World Bank in Rwanda and China. His latest research focuses on social mobility in post-conflict/genocide context. He is co-editor of Genocide, Risk and Resilience (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013) and has written several articles and reports for such publications as African Affairs, Journal of Modern African Studies, Journal of Eastern African Studies, International Journal of Transitional Justice and Critique of Anthropology.