Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Dustin Berna

Second Advisor

Jason Campbell

Third Advisor

Evan Hoffman


Darfur, Dehumanization, Genocide, Rape, Rwanda


From April-July 1994, over 800,000 people were killed in a genocide in Rwanda. Since 2004, over 450,000 people have been killed in a genocide in Darfur, Sudan. In both instances, physical and sexual dehumanization were used against the targeted groups. While dehumanization in genocide has been studied, most literature on dehumanization looks at it from a psychological viewpoint, and does not include the socio-economic factors that can lead to a population being dehumanized and targeted for genocide. In addition, research on the different types of dehumanization, especially sexual dehumanization, is needed in order to fully understand the role that dehumanization plays in encouraging and facilitating genocide. The purpose of this dissertation was to compare how dehumanization was/is used in the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur. Thus, in this study, I analyzed the literature on Rwanda and Darfur and explain how dehumanization was spread from the top down by both governments, the role structural violence played in the genocides, and the types of dehumanization, both physical and sexual, used in each genocide. This dissertation is a qualitative study that used case study methodology in order to review the existing literature on Rwanda and Darfur, as well as the literature on dehumanization. I argued that rape in Rwanda and Sudan was an act of genocide, done to inflict severe physical and mental harm upon the groups, as well as a measure intended to prevent births within the targeted group. I concluded with some policy recommendations, including mental health care for the survivors, steps to recognize and stop the spread of dehumanization of a targeted group, and the need to rehumanize not only the victims, but also the perpetrators, in order to build a lasting peace.

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