Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Kids Near Soldiers


Remembering is an ethical act, has ethical value in and of itself. Memory is, achingly, the only relation we can have with the dead. —Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (2003)

Genocide ravaged the tiny African nation of Rwanda with unprecedented speed nineteen years ago. According to government figures, around 1,000,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were murdered in 100 days. How to remember the victims has remained a vexed issue for Rwandans. Prompted by Susan Sontag's reflections on photographs of suffering, I explore the obligations of memory in post-genocide Rwanda. The photos in NEVER/AGAIN deal with the tensions between memory and reconciliation; representation and neglect.

In the aftermath of the genocide, wounded and traumatized survivors, orphans, rape victims, and displaced Rwandans struggled to address the past. The Rwandan government, focused on rebuilding, has advocated for universal forgiveness and reconciliation. Survivors and perpetrators, expected to forgo revenge and hatred, continued to live and work side-by-side. Efforts to commemorate, memorialize, and educate, while imperfect, have emerged slowly. The photos in NEVER/AGAIN document examples of Rwandan memorialization and education. The images demonstrate that memory is stubborn and they hint at Rwandan progress toward reconciliation and healing.

About the Artist:

Shannon Scully is the Cummings Fellow of Comparative Genocide and a first-year doctoral student at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University. She researches the use of human remains in memorialization practices in post-genocide Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. She is also a photographer and comes to Clark from the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda where she served as the Photographic and Physical Collections Officer.

Connection to Policy and Practice:

NEVER/AGAIN explores the complicated legacy of memory in post-genocide Rwanda. The exhibition complements the Strassler Center symposium, Policy and Practice: Pedagogy about the Holocaust and Genocide, which considers how history, politics, and culture influence whether and how societies teach about genocide.