Understanding the politics of ethnic conflict in any contemporary society requires more than a passing acquaintance with its history, all the more so in Africa where pat references to "tribalism" sometimes take the place of analysis altogether. This study by a University of North Carolina political scientist offers important background to the 1990 invasion of Rwanda by Uganda-based exiles seeking redress for ethnic discrimination. The author presents a carefully researched analysis of the background to the overthrow of Tutsi dominance in the terminal colonial period. She argues that the ethnic and class fault lines that ruptured in revolution in 1959, far from being static or primordial features of Rwandan "tradition," were an outcome of many interacting pressures during the period of missionary penetration and colonial rule, including the impact of the late nineteenth-century rinderpest epidemic, changing patterns of clientship and labor control, and things such as discriminatory access to education.
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