University of Notre Dame
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Student Movements and Societal Accountability for Ethnic Reconciliation: Case Studies of the Eastern DR Congo, Burundi and Sri Lanka

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posted on 2016-05-10, 00:00 authored by Christian Cirhigiri

Student movements have marked the 21st century as the unavoidable set of actors influencing major social revolutions including peacebuilding processes. However, their efforts are least studied in the peacebuilding literature and are least documented. In this thesis through analysis of case studies in eastern Congo, Burundi and Sri Lanka, I study the role of student movements as agents of ethnic reconciliation. I argue that student activists’ liminal position as peace actors is both enabling and constraining for their effectiveness in ethnic reconciliation. On the one hand they are able to execute different activities for ethnic reconciliation because they are not yet burdened by the demands of adulthood. On the other hand student movements are constrained from making a lasting impact because they are not yet adults and are perceived as such by other important players in ethnic reconciliation in the countries of study. The biggest contribution of these student organizations as agents of social accountability for ethnic reconciliation in three countries of study is that they engineer new agendas and raise new forms of consciousness about what alternative pathways can be followed by countries experiencing internal ethnic conflicts. The path from salient new frameworks about how best to move toward reconciliation is filled with obstacles, some internal, most external pressures that wear on student movements’ ability to achieve success on their own.


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Research Director(s)

Catherine Bolten


  • Master of Arts

Degree Level

  • Master's Thesis

Program Name

  • Peace Studies

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