Practicing Heritage Means Life or Death in Rwanda

In Rwanda, the field of heritage production is dominated by the central government. National museums and memorials are part of the government’s efforts to establish a usable history for the country, where politicized divisions between ethnic groups, reinforced and reified during colonialism, resulted in a devastating genocide in 1994. Establishing a singular narrative and identity—along with the life-or-death stakes—means that the democratizing practices advocated within heritage scholarship circles are unlikely to gain traction.