© 2017

Death, Image, Memory

The Genocide in Rwanda and its Aftermath in Photography and Documentary Film

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Piotr Cieplak
    Pages 1-23
  3. Piotr Cieplak
    Pages 25-53
  4. Piotr Cieplak
    Pages 195-199
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 201-230

About this book


This book explores how photography and documentary film have participated in the representation of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and its aftermath. This in-depth analysis of professional and amateur photography and the work of Rwandan and international filmmakers offers an insight into not only the unique ability of images to engage with death, memory and the need for evidence, but also their helplessness and inadequacy when confronted with the enormity of the event. 

Focusing on a range of films and photographs, the book tests notions of truth, evidence, record and witnessing – so often associated with documentary practice – in the specific context of Rwanda and the wider representational framework of African conflict and suffering. Death, Image, Memory is an inquiry into the multiple memorial and evidentiary functions of images that transcends the usual investigations into whether photography and documentary film can reliably attest to the o
ccurrence and truth of an event. 


death documentary film genocide memory photography Rwanda image Africa

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Brunel University LondonUxbridgeUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Piotr Cieplak is a writer, filmmaker and academic. He is a lecturer in documentary film practice at Brunel University London, UK.

Bibliographic information


“Elegantly yet accessibly written, Death, Image, Memory is an absolutely vital contribution to many fields of intellectual inquiry, including visual culture and film studies, trauma and genocide studies, and African Studies. What makes the book stand out is its detailed and respectful attention both to texts and contexts, which means that – to the extent that any “justice” can be done in relation to an event such as the Rwandan Genocide – it attempts to do justice to the people affected by trauma and not only to the images themselves. In maintaining the tension between the epistemological value of images (produced and viewed by Rwandans and non-Rwandans) and of the Rwandan tradition of oral history, as well as gestures of silence and resistance to even sharing the trauma of the Genocide, the book keeps ethical, material, and embodied imperatives constantly in the foreground. Furthermore, its theoretical sophistication in considering the evidentiary and memorial claims, possibilities, and shortcomings of lens-based images makes the book a particularly invaluable contribution not only to studies of documentary photography and film production and reception in African and other global contexts, but to studies of fiction film too.” (Dr Lindiwe Dovey, SOAS, University of London)