A dance begins beneath the out-stretched branches of the giant umunyinya tree in Rwanda. First there is drumming and clapping, then the lead dancers step into the center of the gathering. The dancing subsides and the gacaca court, the community hearings on the one hundred days of bloodshed kwn as the Rwandan Gecide, is called into session. This is what the ongoing process of reconciliation looks like nearly twenty years after the brutal, orchestrated murder of almost one million people in Rwanda. But this scene demands questions: How can court testimony be used to rebuild a cohesive national identity for the Hutus and Tutsis? And how is it that dance and theater help to move forward the cause of justice and reconciliation? By documenting the discourse and actions of the gacaca court and exploring the use of performance, Ananda Breed's Performing the Nation provides a satisfying analysis of the interplay between justice, performance, narrative, and memorialization. A crucial addition to the literature of gecide studies, this far-reaching text will also resonate with scholars of applied theater, African studies, and law.
Ananda Breed is a senior lecturer of theater studies at the University of East London, UK.