Kathryn Mara

330 North Orchard Street, Room 2115H-1
Madison WI 53715
Joined WID: 2018

Official and unofficial narratives of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi


Kathryn Mara was born and raised in Michigan. She enjoys mastering new recipes, playing boardgames, exploring places near and far, and going for walks with her sidekick, Winnie the Pup.


  • B.A., English, Northern Michigan University
  • M.A., African American and African Studies, Michigan State University

Research Description

Kathryn Mara is interested in language, cultural practices, and representations of violence, particularly in an east-/central-African context. Her dissertation, “Memory Abroad: Narrative and Discursive Practices Surrounding the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi,” is an interdisciplinary study of the social context of genocide representations, that is, how people talk about it. Through a focus on language and commemoration, she examines narrative practices, attitudes, and processes of socialization among Rwandans outside of Rwanda. She approaches this topic through ethnographic work and critical discourse analysis, employing Jan Blommaert and Dong Jie’s (2011) notion of discourse as “language-in-society.” Thus, she interprets discourse as deeply situated in a “web of relations of power, a dynamics of availability and accessibility, a situatedness of single acts vis-à-vis larger and historical patterns such as genres and traditions.”


  • African Literature Association
  • African Studies Association
  • American Anthropological Association
  • International Network of Genocide Scholars
  • Modern Language Association


  • Graduate School Fellowship (2018-2019)
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (Swahili) (2017-2018)
  • Ebrahim Hussein Fellowship for Research in African Literature (2017)
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (Kinyarwanda) (2016-2017)
  • Mellon Foundation Area and International Studies Research Fellowship (2015)
  • Research Enhancement Award (2014)
  • Frank and Adelaide Kussy Scholarship for the Study of Genocide (2014)
  • NMU Scholars Award (2010-2012)