Still Not One People: Implicit Ethnic Perception of Tutsis in Rwanda

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Abstract

Since the 2001 official abolishment of ethnic specification in Rwanda, it is prohibited to classify individuals into ethnic groups in the postgenocide country. For the first time to our knowledge, this study compiles objective data on ethnic perception in Rwanda to investigate whether interethnic bias is still prevalent. It is hypothesized that Rwandans who were not persecuted during the genocide still associate Tutsis with privilege and not with victimization, instead of their persecution during the genocide. This hypothesis was tested with a computer-based priming task, in which photos of persons who conformed to stereotypes of Tutsi and Hutu appearance, respectively, were combined with pictures of symbols representing privilege and victimization. Results showed that responsiveness to the Tutsi-privilege combinations was higher compared with the Hutu-privilege combinations. No differences were found in the responsiveness to the Tutsi- and Hutu-victimization combinations. Perception of Tutsis as privileged was independent of readiness to reconcile.

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