Publisher: African Studies Association

From Data Problems To Data Points: Challenges and Opportunities of Research In Postgenocide Rwanda

Elisabeth King
KEYWORDS: From Data Problems to Data Points: Challenges and Opportunities of Research in Postgenocide Rwanda


While interest in conducting fieldwork in conflict and postconflict societies continues to grow, literature addressing the specific challenges and dilemmas of this kind of research remains scarce. Based on four months of fieldwork and approximately seventy interviews, this article explores the complexities of conducting research in postgenocide Rwanda. I argue that what at first may appear to be data problems can also be important data points; problems such as historical memory, selective telling, and skewed participant demographics illuminate political structures, group relations, and societal cleavages. This article then illustrates this argument by examining how these challenges/opportunities help explain the difficulties involved in teaching history in postgenocide schools. These reflections on research in Rwanda suggest valuable lessons for fieldwork and data analysis in a number of settings by providing examples of pitfalls, dilemmas, and often unseen opportunities that are likely to present themselves in other divided societies

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