In On The Act 

Lead artist/researcher: James Thompson

Supporting artist: pamelaneil

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Through an exploration of two memorial sites in Rwanda, this performance explores the role of the international researcher in communicating information about the genocide to non-Rwandan audiences. It relates the shift of the researcher from passive observer to participating investigator in Rwandan memorial sites. The official memorial centre in Kigali and the display of lime-cured bodies in Murambi become two places where the international visitor’s perspective on the genocide is controlled and transformed. This ‘lecture’ replicates the style of travelogue to make a direct comment on the partial readings of the genocide by international visitors and how their transitory status within Rwanda has been co-opted by the current government. Visiting researchers, through the memorial strategies in different sites, are enrolled as advocates and ‘academic scriptwriters’ to promote a certain version of the genocide to international audiences. This ‘lecture’ uses performance to comment on the performance demanded by these situations.


  • to explore two different Rwandan memorial strategies and their affects on the body and performance of the visiting researcher

  • to place those strategies within the current politics of genocide memorialisation in Rwanda

  • to explore how a visceral response to displayed bodies is transformed into a demand for a certain researcher performance

  • to examine how performance can reveal these strategies of remembrance in order to comment on how they demand certain types of performance from international visitors


This research comes from a three and a half year AHRC funded project exploring performance in sites of armed conflict called In Place of War ( James Thompson as Project Director has visited projects in Rwanda and has continued to research how the genocide is being memorialised and represented. The international community of researchers are part of this strategy and therefore any researcher engaging in Rwanda, must acknowledge how they are part of a process of remembrance and dissemination - they are co-opted as performers of certain narratives of the genocide.

pamelaneil is an Australian born artist using public expression to explore the role we play in the story being told about us - the creation of identity. Pamela’s work has dealt, at an individual and community level directly with presenting publicly ideas that are difficult and complex - focusing on how we create the story we tell about who we are and what we know - storying; the image we leave in the minds of our audience becomes our story - public expression as performance art. For further information:



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