The labels of victim and perpetrator in the aftermath of genocide have shaped the stories of pain and reconstructions for many of the Bosnian and Rwandan Americans. The trauma created by the labels has not only affected the first generations but has had profound impacts on future generations. The younger generations in Diaspora have learned about their country and history through their communities’ stories and had to deal with their communities’ labeling of victims or perpetrators created by the accident of their ethnicity.
Claudine Kuradusenge-McLeod’s book Narratives of Victimhood and Perpetration: The Struggle of Bosnian and Rwandan Diaspora Communities in the United States (Peter Lang, 2021) explores how these labels and their complicated national histories shape the newer generations sense of homeland and identity as well as their involvement in their homeland or host-country politics. The narratives presented in this book helps us understand how young people understand their identities, their communities’ narratives, and their reflections on post-atrocity reconciliation as well as how they engage with the Diaspora communities’ politics in their homeland and in America. This book brings to light the individual stories of all ethnic groups and explores the impacts of the labels of victimhood and perpetrator on the second generations. By creating a space for the stories of all individuals who have experienced mass atrocities, this book hopes to start the healing process of these transgenerational traumas and works to reduce the interethnic resentments that result from them. Allowing the stories of all groups to be heard will provide an important outlet and, we may hope, help prevent future recurrences of the violence.
Christopher P. Davey is Visiting Assistant Professor at Clark University’s Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
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