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Thread: Need help with my Bachelor thesis

  1. #1 Need help with my Bachelor thesis 
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    Hi everyone,

    This is my problem: I'm writing a thesis about the genocide in Rwanda, but the problem is the so many people have done it before and I want my work to be original. So I wonder if anyone here in this forum have any tips on how i should form my thesis so it will become original and contribute something to the world of science....

    This is what i have done so far: I started out by choosing a theory, which is the scapegaoting theory. My goal here is to use the scapegaoting theory to explain why the genocide bursted out.

    thx and i'm waiting for your answer


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  3. #2  
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    What is the scapegoating theory and why do you believe it is correct? Are there competing theories? You don't simply decide that a theory is correct and set out to prove it. You should have some reason for thinking it is true.

    You are probably not going to discover any new facts about the genocide. What you will have to do is find all the facts available, study genocides in history, study the applicable psycholigical literature, and find out a new way of looking at the facts and relating them to your hypothesis.


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  4. #3  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Is the scapegoat theory in this event original? I would have thought a) it has been previously proposed b) it is too simplistic.

    I presume you have done extensive research on the topic. Have you made a list of all the prior explanations? Could you do a meta-analysis of the past proposals? Build up a plausible and convincing explanation that encompasses most of the past proposals, properly weighted as to their probable influence?
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    Possibly taking a sub story, building on with some conjecture, could help make your work appear original, but that's going to be a hard task, so much already written and discussed on this issue. I would consider researching the UN's involvement or more importantly their not being forthright and advising the World accurately on what was happening. Read the entire UN portion of this report...



    On April 6, 1994, the RTLM accused the Belgian peacekeepers of having shot down or of helping to shoot down the president's plane. This broadcast has been linked to the killing of ten Belgian UN troops by Rwandan army soldiers.[17]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_Genocide
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  6. #5  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    Try focusing on one perspective involving the genocide. Consider: 1) the historical significance of the two tribes, 2) who delineated/created the country of Rwanda and why (that is, why did the two tribes get grouped together as one country), 3) how did acts by European colonial powers contribute to the genocide, 4) what were the politics that prevented the world from recognizing that a genocide was occurring, or 5) the aftermath and how Rwanda has improved itself since the genocide.

    For example, on the two tribes (from Wikipedia's Origins of Tutsi and Hutu):
    The origins of the Tutsi and Hutu peoples is a key issue in the history of Burundi and Rwanda, as well as the Great Lakes region of Africa. While the Hutu are generally recognized as the ethnic majority of Rwanda, in racialist ideology the Tutsi were identified as a foreign race, as opposed to an indigenous minority. The relationship between the two is thus, in many ways, derived from the perceived origins and claim to "Rwandan-ness". The largest conflict related to this question was the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
    So, a good example is, what "set the stage" for the Hutus to identify the Tutsis as a foreign race? That is, why weren't they looked upon as indigenous? And would this have made a difference? What were each tribe's claim to "Rwandan-ness"?
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    Hi again,

    All your good answers made me think of an new issue. Many people who conducted the genociede did it with fear. The reason why some Bahutus became killers over night was just because they thought that the Batutsi population was going to kill them. So in other words there was a kill or get killed spirit in Rwanda during the year 1994. This made me think of a new main question: we can legitimately judge the local people who participated in genocide?

    So I wonder if anyone could direct me to a theory who handles issues like this, eg. when we can legally convict people and when we can't.
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    Many people who conducted the genociede did it with fear.
    I am not sure I agree with that. People have a tendency to go along with the general populace, and also to obey authority without asking too many questions. I think that has more to do with it than fear. No individual can argue that they participated in these acts out of self-defence?

    Look at Nazi germany which committed mass genocide that required the involvement of thousands of "normal" people. Most of these did not do it out of fear, in fact many sought to make a successful career and profit from the murders, which shows how twisted and distorted the morals and beliefs of a collective society can get.

    Peoples morals and beliefs are not based on some underlying truths or facts, they are mostly based on what they see around them, how others act and how to "fit in", therefor there is no genuine definition of right or wrong that is set in stone.
    All it takes is enough people to tip the balance in the wrong direction, and you end up with a population that have managed to make murder a socially acceptable solution to a political problem they had.
    From wikipeida about the Rwanda genocide:
    the news media played a crucial role in the genocide; local print and radio media fueled the killings
    anti-Tutsi hate speech "...became so systemic as to seem the norm."
    Obviously the state will have been directing the media campaigns, but it shows how the government can twist what is seen to be socially acceptable by the majority. There are much less extreme cases of these collective social behaviours all over the world. In the case of Genocide it starts off as a casual racism and social exclusion of the "offending" minority and then escalates (either through a feedback/snowballing type effect or the connivance of the state) to the point where mass murder can be seen as acceptable. As crude as that sounds.

    I tend to think that after these atrocities are committed, and the people involved realise they are no longer the norm, and they are seen by a larger, or even global, majority as committing an "evil" act, they will resort to saying it was done out of fear. When in fact it was their instinct to think that its ok because "everyone else does it" that was the real reason they did not object.
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  9. #8  
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    Genocide in Rwanda was a mass murder, right? Therefore, your topic needed a very deep study on what was happen. If you wanted your thesis to be original among others, you should study all the things around the Genocide in Rwanda. On the other hand, maybe put into your thesis how long did the genocide in Rwanda last?
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  10. #9  
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    I would strongly agree with harvestein that "people have a tendency to go along with the general populace, and also to obey authority without asking too many questions" - in fact, a sociological experiment by Stanley Milgram shows this very prominently

    In Milgram's experiment on obedience and authority, he set up a situation where a 'scientist' asked a member of the public to administer electric shocks to the subject. Milgram's results showed that a majority of ordianry, reasonable adults would administer to another person electric shocks that were apparently painful, dangerous and in some cases, fatal, when ordered to do so. Despite the recipient of the shocks being a trained actor, the experiment showed how much people will change their behaviour based on their institutional context.

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  11. #10  
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    Why does everyone look for noble, or "genuine mistake" type motivations, like Scapegoating? Instead, I would say to look at the lower motivations like outright greed. When you already really want to do something, it doesn't take a very well-thought-out excuse to defeat your moral inhibitions.


    After those Tootsie were dead, somebody got to own their possessions. There's also the basic sadistic motivation. Some people have lived very painful lives and just want to act out by torturing someone else. There's also the ability to rise in status within one's own group by being more hateful than your other fellow Hutu. I think these people were just opportunists who saw a way to get ahead by exploiting (mercilessly killing) someone else.
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    Have you finished your Thesis yet? I'm also planning to write my thesis on the Rwandan genocide, however, it's for a history degree. I'm not really sure what angle to take yet, I've been having the same problem with the "original" work/ idea part...

    I'd like to focus my topic on the perpetrators of the genocide. I've been trying to find biographies/ collect data, but there's not much information there.

    Do you have any advice/ good sources you'd like to share?

    I am definitely not enjoying this thesis process, all this work for a damn bachelors degree.
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  13. #12  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    General Romeo Dallaire wrote an autobiographical account of his experience during the Rwandan genocide when he was the UN commander in charge of the peace keepers.

    The book is called Shake Hands with the Devil, there was a decent documentary chronicling Dallaire's return to Rwanda on the 10 year anniversary of the genocide by the same name, and a mediocre fictionalized film by the same name, just to make things confusing.

    http://www.whitepinepictures.com/dallairesite/
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  14. #13  
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    About sources, I can help both of you to get good one. One of my friend is living in Kigali, she is from Burundi, but these 2 countries are sharing their populations and, unfortunatly, their problems. I can ask her if she can find some people for you (In addition, she is amazingly beautiful, she is Miss Burundi or something like that... But that's another story).

    I have been in Africa for years and experienced already some 'minors' tribal murders/cleansing. The triggers are not that simple. A sole trigger like the 'scaped goat' is too simplistic. It makes me remember that thesis of a US writer who based the french revolution's Great Fear on a ergot epidemic. Complete non-sense. Complex events have complex triggers.
    Each tribal tension, riots, killings I have experienced have at least 3-4 major triggers: economic competition, religion, politics, behaviour etc... News are simplifying it. For example, the last riot in Jos, in Nigerian's middle belt where not only religious. They were also triggered by social factors like poverty, rise of prices in market by some traders etc... I think Kojax explained this very well.
    About 4-5 years ago, I was discussing with some colleagues, all graduated engineers about so-called 'religious riots' on going in northern Nigeria. One of them, a graduated engineer gave his own experience "I remember when I was student in Umuahia, there was riot in Aba against Hausa. We went on rampage. They were just having machete but Bakassi boys (some vigilante group) gave us guns. I knew one old hausa man who was cheating us in his shop. We went there and pushed him from the second floor of his house. He was like flying.". During that riot, in 2000, about 1800 hausa and northern nigerians were slaughtered in southern Nigeria in reprisal of a similar number of southern nigerians killed in the north. What surprised me was the lack of emotion of the guy. It was like a kind of joke. And what surprised me more is that, when I expressed my shock, the others told me by sign to shut up. Because the boy 'might be protected'. And 'he was a real owner of the land'. I guess the same will have happen in Serbia, in Germany or in France some years ago.
    So much reasons, so much 'grey situations' where people are not guilty but also not intervening... I just advise you to avoid single reasons for such terrible things.
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