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Motherhood and Resilience among Rwandan Genocide-Rape Survivors


  • Maggie Zraly,

  • Sarah E. Rubin,

  • Donatilla Mukamana


Anthropological scholarship on motherhood offers frameworks for studying the everyday lives of mothers to reveal a deeper understanding of what mothering means and how motherhood relates to broader sociocultural forms. Theory emerging from psychological anthropology explores the interplay of resilience and suffering in contexts of extreme adversity. Bringing together these bodies of work, this article engages with a lacuna in the scholarship and examines how motherhood shapes women's resilience among Rwandan genocide-rape survivors. We elucidate how motherhood opened them to new forms of sociality in the context of postgenocide Rwanda. Maternal desire gave rise to a motherhood assemblage that fostered diverse modes of resilience, created the potential for new life possibilities, and placed limitations on opportunities. Our findings suggest that emotional experience is crucial to resilience among Rwandan genocide-rape survivors who are mothers and point to future directions for research and health promotion among populations affected by conflict-related sexual violence.