'We Came to Realize We Are Judges': Moral Careers of Elected Lay Jurists in Rwanda's Gacaca Courts

Hollie Nyseth Brehm, Louisa L. Roberts, Christopher Uggen, Jean Damascene Gasanabo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the wake of the 1994 genocide, Rwanda's government created the Gacaca courts to hold suspected perpetrators accountable. Although much has been written about these courts, researchers know comparatively less about the 250,000 individuals who served as Gacaca court judges (inyangamugayo). We draw upon 135 interviews to explore how the inyangamugayo entered and adapted to their new public roles as moral arbiters, how these judges understood Gacaca's missions, and how their social identities evolved over the course of multiple status transitions. Building on Erving Goffman's sequential approach to moral careers, we trace the process of becoming a judge. In doing so, we highlight the two overarching missions that surfaced during the interviews - justice and reconciliation - and how the judges continued to view themselves as inyangamugayo even after the courts closed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-463
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Transitional Justice
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) (2020). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email [email protected].

Keywords

  • Gacaca
  • Moral careers
  • judges
  • symbolic interactionism

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