Mark’s research ethnographically investigates the aftermaths of colonialism, war, genocide and violent political transition, and is based, in part, on five years of fieldwork in the African Great Lakes Region. His first book manuscript, Spectres of the New Rwanda
, examines the Rwandan state’s on-going campaign against “genocide ideology,” which is prohibited in law as “thoughts” of ethnic hatred that threaten the recurrence of genocide. Though it appears as a utopian promise that installs a dystopian assumption about its citizens (i.e., that they are racist), the campaign against genocide ideology does suggest a new form of nation-building based on the attempt to effect a radical break with the bloodstained past. This book project has involved research in those institutions charged with eradicating genocide ideology, including Rwanda’s prisons, layperson-run genocide courts, military-run “re-education” camps, and state-run genocide commemoration events.
Mark has been concurrently working on a second book project which offers a critique of the interdisciplinary literatures on “transitional justice,” based upon ethnographic research generated from attending over 150 hearings of Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts. These specialized genocide tribunals, which were in operation between 2002 and 2012, authorized ordinary person without legal training to try and sentence their own neighbors with up to life in prison, passing judgment on 1.9 million cases at an official conviction rate of 86%.
Mark’s teaching and writing bring social theoretical critique to bear on anthropology, history and African Studies, taking up the call to decolonize university curricula. He draws upon the resources of deconstruction, in particular, to critically examine Western knowledge production and its past and present roles in various imperial projects. In the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto he teaches classes on violent aftermaths, language and injury, political anthropology and ethnographic methods.