- The goal of this tutorial is to develop a social psychological
understanding of genocide, an extreme group behaviour which involves
many aspects of social psychological phenomena such as prejudice,
discrimination, aggression, altruism, and inter-group behavior.
About the 1994 Rwandan Genocide
- During the genocide in Rwanda over one million people
were systematically slaughtered in three months. That's
the equivalent of approximately three September 11 incidents
occurring every day for three months.
Timeline: 100 days
(BBC News, 6 April, 2004)
Between April and July, 1994, over one million people died as a result of an
attempt at ethnic cleansing in Rwanda. This brief article summarizes
some key dates in the events that unfolded. Note that estimates of how
many people died vary, depending on the source.
- The Rwandan genocide
can be viewed and understood as a real-world, major social event
which illustrates many aspects of social psychology.
This 10th anniversary American documentary and accompanying website tells the harrowing
story of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, one of the worst atrocities of the
20th century. It includes interviews with several key figures, including government officials, diplomats,
and eyewitnesses accounts. During the course of the documentary almost every social
psychological principle is revealed in one form or another,
although it is not specifically framed in social psychological
terms. Warning: This documentary contains disturbing emotional and graphic content. For
example, you will see dead bodies in various states of
mutilation and decomposition, although it is probably the
interviews and human stories that are the most emotionally
(Available in 3 hour loan -
DT450.435.B37 2004 dvd)
Dealing with graphic content
- Students will be likely to be left
emotionally drained and disturbed from viewing this movie and
its potential effects should not be taken likely. Some amount of post-traumatic reaction is
normal and expected, e.g., crying during and afterwards is common.
- There are potentially traumatising effects of watching
graphic content about genocide. Look after yourself by:
- Read about the genocide beforehand and
prepare yourself emotionally
- Attendance is voluntary.
- You may not want to sit through the entire movie.
to leave and please respect anyone's decision to do so as a sign
of emotional maturity and self-care, not weakness.
- Process your emotional reactions.
e.g., discuss with other students (e.g., via WebCT bulletin-board).
- If you are concerned about your level of
reaction, notify the convenor and consider discussing with student counselling or a mental health
Key learning exercise
- Individually create a list and take notes on the
instances of social psychological phenomenon that you observe to
be involved in the Rwandan genocide and related events.
Even if you don't know the formal name of a phenomenon, note and describe it.
- In the next tutorial, the class will collate their
observations and develop a
collective understanding of the Rwandan genocide as a social