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Essay for exam PEACE ST 2A03.docx

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McMaster University
Peace Studies
Diane Enns

This paper will aim to examine the politicization of identity and the role this politicization played in the violent conflict in Rwanda. In addition, as a member of a conflict transformation organization working at the community level in Rwanda, Amartya Sen’s solution to the problem of identity will be evaluated. Moreover, Sen’s solution will be examined through two strategies that will aim to implement this solution. The politicization of identity is defined as when an identity becomes the object of some political goal, at the worst, in order to separate a particular group for the ultimate goal of elimination (genocide). This entails "dehumanization," which means to render a group or individual as less than human, without dignity, worthless. In the case of Rwanda, the genocide occurred in 1994 in which 800,000 Tutsis were brutally killed. Most of the perpetrators were Hutus, however Hutus lives were lost as well. The politicization of identity played a pivotal role in initiating the Rwanda genocide. During the colonization era in Rwanda (1916), Belgian colonialism played a role in strengthening the divide between the Tutsi and Hutu peoples. The Belgians used these two different identities to promote a political agenda. An example of this is when Belgians introduced separate ID cards for the two tribes, in which Tutsi that means "rich in cattle" and Hutu which means “servant” was evident. Other discriminations like this, including inequalities based on physical appearance played a role in politicizing identity and causing the Rwandan genocide. The issue with identity here is that they are competing identities and are contradictory and plural. Amartya Sen's solution to the problem of identity is that all identifications should not be eliminated because we need a sense of belonging. In addition, he states that a singular identity is an illusion as we are all plural within ourselves. This implies that one may identify another individual with one identity, but that individual has many interconnecting identities. Sen states, "Rather, we have to draw on the understanding that the force of a bellicose identity can be challenged by the power of competing identities." In his solution it is essential we find "other ways of classifying people, which can restrain the exploitation of a specifically aggressive use of one particular categorization". Moreover, Sen argues against identity violence caused by the illusion of destiny in three ways. First, he speaks to our common humanity; everyone laughs at weddings, cries at funerals, and worries about their children. According to Sen, this is more important than any external differences and shared humanity should be emphasized. As a member of a conflict transformation organization working at the community level in Rwanda, one strategy that I think would work is emphasizing the importance of plural identities. In order to avoid identity conflict that causes violence, it is important to understand the person in opposition to you. To understand a person one must consider factors of civilization, religion, nationality, class, community, culture, gender, profession and several other factors. Sen claims that some of the facets of such singular identities are a source of violence in the world. Another strategy that would be beneficial is reconciliation. This is a notion that is developed by David Bloomfield, which is defined as a “process through which society moves from a divided past to a shared future”. Bloomfield identifies that reconciliation is a, “process of gradually rebuilding broad social relationships between communities alienated by violence” (12). His handbook outlines four main factors that are essential in achieving this; “a justice process, a process acknowledging experiences, a process of healing and a process of reparation”. This ties into Sen’s solution because Sen emphasizes the importance of politicization, which Bloomfield also identifies with. According to Bloomfield, reconciliation is an essential ingredient in peace-building just as important as legal reform and economic reconstruction. In conclusion, the politicization of identity is key in explaining how identity becomes the target of a political goal and causes violence. This was evident in the Rwandan Genocide where the two identities of Tutsi and Hutus became the cause of the violent conflict, but the Belgian colonizers were the ones to politicize their identities. Moreover, the paper also examined Amatya Sen’s solution to the problem of identity, and examined two strategies. rd 3 :This paper addresses a comprehensive conflict transformation plan for the violent conflict that occurred in Bosnia. It will examine the several challenges in implementing a plan for this region, the strategies that will meet these challenges and anticipating any problems that might arise. In the context of Bosnia, there are several challenges that will act as obstacles in the comprehensive conflict transformation plans. One major challenge would be dealing with the “new normal” that the war established. Due to the violent conflict in Bosnia, many of the men claim that the war changed their sense of morality. An action like killing others, which is considered morally wrong, becomes the new normal for many of the individuals that were present during the conflict. In the plan, it will be difficult to take steps in order to change the perception of what has become normalized for the people of Bosnia. Another challenge is incomprehension because in certain areas of Bosnia, many of the Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats lived as neighbors. Some of these individuals were friends with each other before the conflict escalated. Even several years after, victims of the conflict are unable to understand why the perpetrators also their friends did what they did. It is very difficult for the victims to understand, which causes resentment of all sorts. This is an obstacle when one trying to rebuild community life. In addition, Bosnians also share resentment towards Bosnians who lived aboard during the war years. Despite the war being over, the Bosnians that lived through the conflict and participated in military operations blame the ones that returned from abroad only after the war ended for their lack of participation in defending their people and nation.When dealing with violent conflict, it is inevitable to avoid loss
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