Alison Des Forges and Rwanda: from engaged scholarship to informed activism
Institute of Development Policy and Management
Canadian journal of African studies. - Ottawa, Ont.
, p. 35-74
University of Antwerp
Alison Des Forges, a renowned scholar and human rights activist of Central Africa, died in an airplane crash in 2009. Her life is a model of the conjunction of human rights activism and scholarship; it therefore illuminates the relations between these two forms of participation in African Studies. This article commemorates her work, showing how her scholarship enriched her human rights work, and how, in turn, her scholarship was driven by her sense of social justice. The article analyses five domains of her work: her 1972 dissertation; her participation in human rights reporting; a series of Human Rights Watch reports which she wrote or edited; her magisterial work on the genocide of 1994; and her continued scholarly publications after the genocide. From this, it argues that Des Forges's life work exemplified the mutually reinforcing nature of these two forms of commitment - scholarship and work towards human rights and social justice.