LEWISTON — The Great Falls Forum lecture series will present professor Alexandre Dauge-Roth speaking on “Lewiston to Kigali and Back: Learning with Orphans of the Rwandan Genocide,” at noon Thursday, March 18, in Callahan Hall at the Lewiston Public Library, 200 Lisbon St.
Dauge-Roth is an associate professor of French at Bates College who has devoted much research to the Rwandan genocide of 1994 during which Hutu extremists massacred as many as a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
In the five years since he came to Bates, Dauge-Roth has fostered correspondence in French between his students at Bates and survivors of the genocide. In 2007, his students created the Bates Students for Peace in Rwanda organization, which received a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace award to support a home for street children in Rwanda. Also in 2007, Dauge-Roth assembled an international conference that brought scholars, human-rights advocates and genocide survivors to Bates to discuss the 1994 events.
For his Great Falls Forum presentation, he will be joined by two of 13 students he took to Rwanda for three weeks last year to conduct an oral history project. They collected stories of young survivors who lost their siblings and parents in the genocide and are now trying to rebuild their lives through education in a rapidly changing Rwanda.
Of his research into the narratives created by genocide survivors, African writers and filmmakers, Dauge-Roth said, “These testimonies and documentaries find ways to haunt the reader and the viewer, so that we cannot go back to our usual business and forget about it.”
In providing opportunities for his students to talk with those who experienced tragic losses in the Rwandan massacres, the professor hopes that they will reflect on what it means to be a survivor and what role they ought to play as they establish connections with them. “There’s a lot to learn from them about the ability to struggle and live on despite horrific loss,” he said.
Dauge-Roth was one of three Maine college professors to receive a 2009 Maine Campus Compact award for infusing public service and civic engagement into his teaching. His book, “Writing and Filming the Genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda: Dismembering and Remembering Traumatic History,” is due to be published next month.
Dauge-Roth and his students will take questions from the audience after their presentation.
Admission to the Great Falls Forum is free. Attendees are invited to bring brown-bag lunches, or to take advantage of the Forum’s partnership with Guthries cafe and request one of the eatery’s sandwiches or salads to be delivered to the library in advance of the talk. Orders may be placed by calling Guthries at 376-3344. The menu is available at www.myspace.com/guthriesplace. Bottled water will be available on site at the library.
More information on Thursday’s lecture or other upcoming events in the Great Falls Forum series is available by contacting the Lewiston Public Library at 513-3135 or www.LPLonline.org.