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Remembering the Rwandan Genocide in The West WIng and 24

Abstract : This article examines the way the 1994 Rwandan genocide is reconstructed by American TV series The West Wing (NBC, 1999-2006) and 24 (Fox, 2001-2010) in order to account for the politics that is at work behind such acts of fictional remembrance. First, the chapter shows that contrary to the films that directly tackle the tragedy by replicating the actual genocide, the two TV series create African countries, which allows for an alternative history to be told: in fiction, the United States intervenes to stop genocidal acts from occurring. The chapter also analyzes how sub-Saharan Africa is constructed on screen through 'Africanist' means of representation that denote the Western essentializing vision of the continent. Then, the chapter considers the portrayal of the genocide which largely remains an off-camera tragedy in both fictions. Nevertheless they still manage to provide the viewers with a clear idea of the unfolding horrors by adopting a suggestive, elusive mode of representation. Finally, the chapter discusses the way The West Wing and 24 try to restore some of the American moral prestige that was lost in the Rwandan crisis through the display of fictional presidents who are poised to act and intervene abroad not to protect their own interests but because human lives are at stake. In doing so, the two shows ponder over the ethical principles that govern the foreign policy of the United States and conclude that American exceptionalism should always prevail.
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Contributor : Alexis Pichard <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - 7:56:06 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, November 26, 2020 - 11:30:02 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-03024548, version 1


Alexis Pichard. Remembering the Rwandan Genocide in The West WIng and 24. Lori Maguire; Sébastien Lefait; Susan Ball. Modern Representations of Sub-Saharan Africa, Routledge Contemporary Africa, 2020, 9780367343125. ⟨hal-03024548⟩



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