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The Importance of Public Remembering after Forced Forgetting of Mass Atrocities

SGIS Colloquium Theme: Confronting Historical Silences

Date: Time: 12:00 pm–1:00 pm
Zoom Event
Contact: Julia Reilly,
‘We must never forget’ is one of the common phrases one hears on the anniversary of 9/11 in the US. One common practice is to read the name of each person who perished then. Listening to each of the names, one can’t help but realize how powerful remembering is, especially for the families that lost loved ones but also for the entire nation.

In this talk, Dr. Ntihirageza explores the individual, communal and national benefits of remembering and memorialization, particularly in the Burundian context. For many years, public remembering and memorialization in Burundi were not only discouraged, in some cases, they were forbidden. Yet, several times since independence, the country has experienced genocides and mass atrocities. Could there be a connection between the propensity of repeated mass atrocities and forced forgetting by perpetrators?


This is first in a series of colloquia organized by the School of Global Integrative Studies on the theme of “Confronting Historical Silences” is fall.

Dr. Jeanine Ntihirageza, professor and TESOL program coordinator at Northeastern Illinois University Chicago. She is the founding director of the Center for Genocide and Human Rights Research in Africa and the Diaspora. Her research interests are in linguistics, language teaching, refugee and genocide studies, and human rights in Africa.

A survivor of the 1972 genocide in Burundi from a mixed family, Hutu father and Tutsi mother, Dr. Ntihirageza received, in 2001, a Human Rights grant from the University of Chicago that opened doors to her Sub-Saharan refugee community work. She has since been a consultant for community-based organizations with a focus on Sub-Saharan African resettled refugees.

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This event originated in School of Global Integrative Studies.