Andrea Dooley received her BSS in Interdisciplinary Studies at San Francisco State University in 2003, where she wrote a senior thesis focused on 1990s New Urbanism architectural strategies and spatial segregation. She completed an MA in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts in 2006. Andrea’s master’s thesis entitled “It Seemed the Earth Could Not Hold Them: Public Genocide Memorials in Rwanda” interrogated emerging strategies of memorialization and public discourse. Her thesis focused on the politics of representation, personal narrative and the dialog between place and trauma. Andrea conducted field research in Rwanda 2005, which included interviews with genocide survivors, non-governmental organizations and memorial site visits. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Cultural studies at the University of California Davis where she was awarded the Presidents Pre-doctoral Multi-year Fellowship by the Davis Humanities Institute. At UC Davis, she plans to further investigate such issues as multivalent memorial space, implicated geographies marked by historical trauma, place and reconciliation and the language of the unimaginable in the context of genocide.
About Andrea Dooley’s Thesis Project
Implicated Geographies: Public Memorials and the Topographies of Genocide
During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, over a half million people were killed in 100 days. Ten years later, memorials are being constructed that attempt to document and commemorate this catastrophic event. On a recent trip to Rwanda, I heard stories wherever I traveled–I sought them out in order to understand the history of the genocide and the suppositions behind the memorials. When I talked to survivors I was struck with the individual nature of each story; the details that bound their unique lives to the massive killing that had taken place around them.A tension exists between the strange intimacy, everyday rhythm, and community-based organization of the actual killings, and the larger political project behind the genocide that was rooted in a faulty ethnic history established during Rwanda’s colonial period. The individual stories, recorded collective memories, and attempts at public memorials are set in relief against the far-reaching narratives about racial division and political power. These stories take as their settings churches and other community buildings that served as sites of murder. Many of these same sites were transformed after the genocide into memorial sites. The multivalency of these places as locations of violence, as working religious sites, and as sites of commemoration points to the significance of both physical (hills, rivers, and marshes) and institutional geographies (state, school, and church) in the history of the genocide. As part of my investigation, I am interested in how Rwandans have been able to intervene in this process of memorialization by negotiating the tensions between site, history, and personal and political narratives.