Publication Details

Mayersen, D. 2011, 'A political monopoly held by one race: The politicisation of ethnicity in Colonial Rwanda', in D. Riggs C. Due (eds), Directions and Intersections Conference: Proceedings of the 2011, Australian Critical Race and Whiteness, Australia, pp. 167-180.


In at least some parts of Rwanda, Hutu and Tutsi subgroups have existed since pre-colonial times. Under German and Belgian colonial rule, the distinction between the Hutu majority and Tutsi minority was perceived as a racial distinction. The Tutsi minority was regarded as racially superior, and given privileged access to education and indigenous positions of authority. Over time, this perception of Tutsi superiority was both institutionalized and internalised within Rwandan society. The ‘Hutu Awakening’ during the 1950s, however, saw issues surrounding race and privilege become highly politicised. As decolonisation loomed, the intersections between race and power became sites of bitter contestation.

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