CIMS Spotlight on Research

13th October, 2021: In conversation with Professor Nicki Hitchcott, School of Modern Languages

CIMS: Tell us about your research and how it connects to memory/identity studies?

Nicki Hitchcott

Nicki: My current research has three strands, all of them focused on Memory Studies and Rwanda: First, I am interested in creative responses to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, looking at how the genocide is remembered through novels and films. Some of this research is published in my 2015 book, Rwanda Genocide Stories: Fiction After 1994. In a more recent essay, published in Memory Studies, I discuss the usefulness of Alison Landsberg’s theory of prosthetic memory for analysing memory narratives from or about Rwanda. Through my analysis of Terry George’s 2004 Hollywood film, ‘Hotel Rwanda’ and the competing versions of that story told by genocide survivors, I suggest that prosthetic memory is a concept that should be treated with caution.

Second, I am interested in how those who are traumatised by the genocide against the Tutsi use narrative to reconstruct their lives in positive ways. This question was the starting point for my AHRC-funded project, Rwandan Stories of Change, which led to my being shortlisted for the AHRC/Wellcome medal for Health Humanities in the category of best international research in 2018.

CIMS: What are you working on now?

Nicki: Finally, the subject of my most recent research is the different ways in which Belgium’s 40-year-long colonial mandate in what was known as Ruanda-Burundi is remembered through fiction. Using novels as an alternative historical archive, I am comparing fictional memory narratives from the three former colonial spaces (Belgium, Burundi and Rwanda).