Healing The Heart Of Rwanda: Towards A Theory Of Transformative Reconciliation
This study explores post-conflict reconciliation in four local organizations promoting reconciliation in Rwanda: two Christian programs and two women's programs. The transformative learning literature from adult education and the reconciliation literature from various fields are synthesized in an effort to develop a theory of transformative reconciliation by analyzing participant experiences within the four organizations. The concept of transformative reconciliation was developed to address well-recognized weaknesses in reconciliation theory and practice, by making distinctions between multiple kinds of reconciliation and clarifying what supports and impedes them. Additionally, certain weaknesses in the transformative learning literature are addressed by applying the theory to the post-genocide Rwandan context. This study employs the qualitative case study method to interpret profoundly personal experiences of genocide and reconciliation within each organization and within the larger sociopolitical context. In addition to years of prior experience in the region, the two fieldwork phases of this study totaled over a year. Beyond the initial survey of many programs, research methods included unstructured interviews of organization leaders and participants, observation of program activities and reconciliation retreats, document analysis, and a wider study of the sociopolitical context of Rwanda. A full case report was created for each organization, and its position within the overall context was closely considered. The findings of this study reveal that Christian organizations are assisted in promoting transformative reconciliation by a combination of political, cultural, psychological, historical, and pedagogical factors. One women's empowerment program had less dramatic but potentially more powerful results over the long run. The fourth program for widows of the genocide was quite effective in transformative learning but was limited by contextual factors in promoting transformative reconciliation. Drawing from the four cases, this study offers nine distinct recommendations for reconciliation programming in post conflict environments. In regards to the theory base, this study provides a fruitful way of viewing reconciliation of multiple types within complex sociopolitical environments. It also provides insight into several areas of weakness in transformative learning theory, including: negative transformations, other-than-rational learning processes, the role of power and context, the importance of culture, and the notion of surrender as authentic transformation.
transformative learning; post-conflict reconciliation; transformative reconciliation
Constas, Mark Alexander
Schoss, Johanna; Caffarella, Rosemary S.
Ph. D., Education
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis