The Use of Stigma as a Marker of Otherness by RTLM during the Rwandan Genocide

McCordic, Cameron Ross
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University of Guelph

Stigma was defined by Goffman (1963) as a mark of discredited identity or inhumanity and recently, by Link and Phelan (2001), as a process of labelling, stereotyping, separating, discrimination, and status loss. These phenomena demonstrate the means by which a group can become a representation of “otherness” to another group. During the Rwandan Genocide, Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM) broadcast messages which negatively stereotyped the Tutsi people (Straus, 2007). This investigation used Critical Discourse Analysis to investigate RTLM broadcasts during the Rwandan Genocide and to determine how stigmatization influenced the portrayal of the Tutsi people as social “others.” This investigation found that the historical context of the Rwandan Genocide influenced the formation of the Tutsi stigma and this stigma was used as a justification for the otherness of the Tutsi people. These results indicate that stigma can be used to facilitate the formation of social “others.”

stigma, otherness, discourse, discrimination, institutionalized violence