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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The ethics of musical repatriation become especially murky when representative members of the originating culture disagree over whether certain musical artifacts should be repatriated at all. This may be due to linkages between the artifacts and violent histories, such that the artifacts carry the risk of inducing traumatic memories and contributing to ongoing political conflict. Centering on postgenocide Rwanda, this chapter employs a series of ethnographic vignettes to illustrate these ethical tensions. In 2007, the author came into possession of songs by Simon Bikindi, which were used by government-affiliated propagandists to incite the 1994 genocide. The songs are presently de facto censored by the current regime. In carefully reintroducing the songs to genocide survivors and witnesses, the author found that many did indeed support measures to suppress them, while others expressed an earnest desire to own and listen to them again, primarily as a facilitator for therapeutically remembering and narrativizing their own experiences of terror, loss, and recovery. In conclusion, this chapter does not aim to resolve this conflict, but to present it for the purposes of reflection and dialogue.

Keywords: Rwanda, genocide, violence, music censorship, musical repatriation, trauma, memory, self-narrativity

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