In His Own Words: Reflections on a Scholarly Career with Rene Lemarchand


  • Ashley Leinweber



Burunfi, Congo, genocide, Great lakes, Rwanda


What is the role of scholars in envisioning the continent and bearing witness to historic events?  This paper is based on an interview with Professor Rene Lemarchand, renowned scholar of the former Belgian colonies of the African Great Lakes. His earliest book Political Awakening in the Belgian Congo is based on fieldwork conducted in 1960 as the country was undergoing decolonization and describes the political crises of early independence. In the 1970s, he explored the concept of clientelism and role of ethnicity in Central Africa. As events unfolded in Burundi and Rwanda, Lemarchand became an expert on genocide. His career an Africanist has been devoted to understanding political violence in Central Africa while envisioning a better future for its people. The piece will explore reflections not only on his long career, but also its contribution to our understanding of the history of ethnic violence and genocide in the Great Lakes and beyond.






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