Post genocide Rwanda: implications for cross-cultural police training

Willoughby-Mellors, Debra Lynn (2002) Post genocide Rwanda: implications for cross-cultural police training. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Within a period of three months in 1994, up to one million people were killed as a result of war and genocide in Rwanda. Large numbers were physically and psychologically afflicted for life through maiming, rape and other trauma; over two million fled to neighbouring countries and half as many became internally displaced within Rwanda's borders. Post-genocide Rwanda is dramatically different from pre-genocide Rwanda; the genocide transformed the social, political and cultural landscape of Rwanda and undermined the trust that normally binds its people together.

It was against this backdrop that I went to Rwanda in 1995 to engage in a process of action research with local stakeholders, in order to formulate, implement and evaluate a sustainable and effective police training programme. I was also able to reflect upon and research the issues of cultural transferability in a training context. This thesis therefore engages with both of those issues through a framework of the integrated theories of Weaver's `Colliding Icebergs' (1993) and Schein's Process Consultation (1987 and 1998). Weaver believes that entering another culture is similar to two colliding icebergs. The real clash occurs beneath the water where values and thought patterns conflict - the area that Schein describes as `Process' or, when deep-rooted and recurrent, `Structure', that is how things are done. The part of the iceberg that is above the surface would be described by Schein as the `Content' part of culture, that is what is done or the task that is to be achieved.

This research describes how our team and other international community transfer agents initially concentrated on the Content aspects of their research and assistance programmes and ignored the Process and Structure elements. In some cases this limited focus had catastrophic effects as many aid workers failed to incorporate the implications of genocide into the design and implementation of their assistance programmes. This apparent lack of understanding of the psychological impact of genocide (Process and Structure) contributed to the distrust, and even outright hostility, of the Rwandan government and its people towards many of the international field operations in Rwanda.

Whilst working with and developing this theoretical framework for over four and a half years, in a particularly complex and sensitive cross-cultural situation, I identified many strengths that supported this action research. The integrated theories enabled both researchers and practitioners to analyse the cross-cultural situation in which they found themselves in order to fully understand the context of their research and interventions. Additionally, transfer teams and their stakeholder colleagues were able to artificially accelerate the maturity of their crosscultural team, by making their own development part of their formal agenda (Content), rather than leaving it to chance.

This research therefore confirms the importance of personal and organisational intercultural training prior to and during any cross-cultural training event and emphasises the need to analyse, and intervene appropriately, in Content, Process and Structure issues. This includes the importance of understanding the external environment that the culture under research finds itself in and the need to acknowledge the shifting and kaleidoscopic nature of ethnic differentiations and identities. It also stresses the importance of communication and, mutual reflection and learning by the `insider' and `outsider' of the culture in which the action research and training is to be carried out.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Hannah, J.
Thomas, E.
Keywords: Police, Rwanda, politics and government
Subjects: H Social sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 12620
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2012 14:21
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2017 17:32

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