Career and personalityAfter having taught with the college of Rouen, then at the National university of Burundi (UNESCO) and with the University Lille III, this aggregate of history is researcher since 1973, then research director in history of Africa to CNRS. During its scientific career it published many books and several tens of scientific articles. It directed from 1986 to 2001 the laboratory of the Université Paris I entitled “African Changes in the long life - Mald”, where it continues its activity. It is one of the cofounders of the review Africa and Histoire.
The researcher Gerard Prunier thus presents one of the principal books of Jean-Pierre Chrétien, Africa of the big lakes - Two Thousand Years of history: “Modeste, the historian Jean-Pierre Chrétien defines his work as a “compilation of good level”. Actually, it is indeed of sum that it acts, when one knows that no overall work existed, in French, about the history of the area of the Big lakes, apart from that of Emile Mworoha, all the more difficult to consult he is exhausted. Published in a prestigious historical collection, this book gives again in Africa interlacustre a dignity that the bloody risks of the recent topicality tended to make forget. He recalls us that we are here in an area of the black continent where the official phenomenon, very old, had surprised the colonizers at the 19th century. The journalistic articles on “ancestral hatreds” which tear the area were too often taken as a kind of historically founded vulgate; it is thus not useless to return from there to the facts. ”
As specialist in the area which it initially approached by the Burundi, Jean-Pierre Chrétien followed particularly the events of Rwanda. Two works underlined this interest, the challenge of the ethnism and the media of the genocide . This last collective study, that it also directed and realized with Reporters without borders, was made at the request of UNESCO whose executive council “expressed his concern for the abusive use which is made means of communication of mass for the direct and public incentive with the genocide” . The other work represents the main theme that Jean-Pierre Chrétien tried to make evolve/move in connection with the Rwandan and Burundian populations: questioning of the agreed ethnic analysis of these companies. It clearly emphasized that what was regarded as ethnos groups did not correspond to this definition and was only the product of the glance carried by the colonizers of these countries. Its book “the challenge of the ethnism” gathers conferences which he pronounced on this subject of 1990 to 1996.
Witness-expert near the International penal court for Rwanda, it was also heard by:
- Belgian senatorial board of inquiry (1997);
- the mission of information of the French National Assembly (1998);
- the Work group of the Organization of African Unity (1999);
- the Board of inquiry French citizen in 2004.
In a maintenance granted to the review Jeune Afrique , Jean-Pierre Chrétien declares himself as a militant of the curiosity which should be carried to Africa. In an other article, it sticks to “to emphasize the problems of the " public uses of the histoire" to question so much the responsibility and the position of the researcher vis-a-vis the contemporary crises (for example the genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda) that its role in the inflection of the great debates of memory on the crises of last (for example on Shoah or the slavery of the Blacks)” the . By its subjects of research the work of Jean-Pierre Chrétien is thus confronted with historical and political debates, in particular about the history of Rwanda.
DEBATEs around work of Christian Jean-Pierre
The genocide in RwandaThe colonial ideas concerning the Ethnisme in Rwanda strongly influenced the analysis of the Rwandan conflict and the Génocide in Rwanda by the French authorities. Christian Jean-Pierre, having strongly called into question these stereotypes, attracted himself the lightnings of the current which does not accept the dispute of the policy of France in Rwanda and of that of the Hutu Power which denies the existence of the genocide that it organized and realized. In its reports/ratios, articles and works, Mr. Chrétien defended the thesis of a premeditation of the genocide, and criticized, in extremely hard terms, the president Juvénal Habyarimana and its mode.
Debates, less political, took place also between Jean-Pierre Chrétien and other specialists in the Africa of the Big lakes and relate to divergences of appreciations, on the history of the population of this area.
In connection with “the school burundo-Frenchwoman”, polemizes launched by Rene Lemarchand in Canada - 1990In 1990, R. Lemarchand (professor of anthropology On the other side of the Atlantic and specialist in Rwanda and Burundi) strongly criticized work of J. - P. Christian and other researchers, André Guichaoua and Gabriel the Young person compared to a historical school " burundo-française". Lemarchand wrote: the problem with J. - P. Christian is that l'" one never knows very well where the plea finishes and where starts the scientific analysis; where the exhortation, vindication or the free assertion are located (...) and where the speech of the historian-politiste " starts;. J. - P. Christian answered him and the polemic marked the community of the historians working on the East Africa and the area of the big lakes. Alain Ricard, director of the African review Political , remarked in 1994: “ a polemic burst in Canada on a so-called historical school burundo-Frenchwoman, blaming French work for their apparent conformity with the ideologies at the capacity at Bujumbura. These lawsuits of unjust intentions drew the attention to the accessory, and the risks that there is to hold too only such an exposed face. L `essential remains the remarkable historical work of J. - P. Christian whose work is a testimony which enables us today to read the Burundian history, and partly the Rwandan history. Since 1972, the term of genocide was used to qualify the massacres of Hutus in Burundi by Jean-Pierre Chrétien ”. Thereafter Lemarchand continued to quote work of Christian by marking however a critical distance
The dispute of Bernard Lugan, French continuator of the initial vision of the history of Rwandafracture between Tutsis and Hutus, a creation of European colonization? In 1995, Jean-Pierre Christian, called “ professional historian and ethnologist amateur ” (by whom? miss source), was taken with party by the Club of the Clock, association strongly anchored on the right, which allotted to him the Prix Lyssenko for “ its analysis of the African Ethnies, described like a phantasm of the Colonisation ”. This attack however strongly caricatures the positions of Jean-Pierre Chrétien for better discrediting them and calumniating them and “to compare any historical criticism of the concepts of race or ethnos group to a nostalgia of Stalinism”: Jean-Pierre Chrétien considers that the situation of the area of the big lakes presents a situation d" ethnicity particulière" who can be explained only by the history. The category of ethnos group should not be regarded as one given atemporel, but considered in its chronological evolution and its progressive development. For him in the area of the big lakes: " Far from covering a determined cultural identity, the ethnos group corresponds to it traditionally to a social phenomenon hereditary identity (stockbreeders versus farmers). But this design, canted, left the place to a catégoriel feeling " racial " who crystallized in a very fast way, in a few decades only. In the years 1960, I believe that the term of ethnie." was not employed yet; According to him this evolution which led to current cleavage between Tutsi S and Hutu S.A. cré mainly by the Colonisation which racialisé the former social designs. The critics of the Club of the clock in fact were formulated by Bernard Lugan, which reproaches Mr. Chrétien for comparing the Rwandan ethnos groups to “socio-professional groups”, and shows it to confuse the militancy pro-Tutsi with the historical research.
For Jean-Pierre Chrétien the work of Bernard Lugan is however " excessive and marginal". It raises of it, with others, racism clarifies, the historical errors, the constitution skewed of a corpus primarily based on the colonial sources and refutes the idea lent to B. Lugan of Africa marked by " an order naturel" anhistoric and organized by the immutable ethnos group or the race.
Work of Christian Jean-Pierre on the area of the Big lakes and the roots of the Rwandan genocide in addition received an international audience. Some were translated into English and were greeted in eulogistic scientific reports which noted its great contribution to the history of the area and the comprehension of the time colonial and post-colonial or insisted on its qualities of great synthesis.
Filip Reyntjens (expert near TPIR) formula however of scientific criticisms and evokes an undervaluation of ethnic cleavages by J-P. Christian: whereas, for Mr. Chrétien, these cleavages were created, at least with the Rwanda and the Burundi, by the Belgian colonizer, for Mr. Reyntjens, they were only amplified with the colonial occupation. The polemic between Misters Reyntjens and Chrétien increased after the genocide of the Rwandan tutsis, in particular, in 1995, in the review Esprit . Ten years later, the essay writer Pierre Péan used remarks of Mr. Reyntjens to show Mr. Chrétien to take a responsibility in the genocide for the Rwandan tutsis. The French-speaking journalist Charles Onana reproaches Mr. Chrétien for not having neither Doctorat nor DEA in history and, implictement, for being “only” aggregate of history.
Rwanda, media of the genocide ED. Karthala, re-examined and increased, May 3rd, 2000, first ED. 1995.
- With VERDIER Raymond, DECAUX Emmanuel, Rwanda. A genocide of the XXe century , Paris, Harmattan, 1995,262 p.
- the challenge of the ethnism: Rwanda and Burundi, 1990-1996 , Paris, Karthala, 1997.
- History of Africa - stakes of memory (with Jean-Louis Triaud), ED. Karthala, 1999.
- Africa of the big lakes - Two Thousand Years of history , ED. Sapwood, 2000.
- Burundi, identity fracture - Logics of violence and certainty " ethnic " (with Mukuri Nickel silver), ED. Karthala, 2002.
- the ethnos groups has a history (with Gerard Prunier), ED. Karthala, 2003.
Publications in reviews and newspapers
"A Revolt in Burundi in 1934" , Annals, n° November 6th, th and th - December, 1970.
- " Exchange and hierarchy in the kingdoms of the Big lakes of the East africain" , Annals, Economies, Companies, Civilizations, XXIX, 6,1974.
- " Rwanda with crossed chemins" , Growth of the Young Nations, n° 152,1974.
- " African legends vis-a-vis myths européens" , Cultures and development, 1974.
- " The fratricides légitimés" , Spirit, XLIV, n° 463,1976.
- " Two faces of Cham. French point of view of the 19th century on the African races according to the example of Africa orientale" , 1977.
- " Idea (It) of race in the contemporary French political thought " , 1977.
- " The company of Burundi: Myths with the réalités" , the Month in Africa, n° 163-164, July-August 1979.
- "The ethnic alibi in the policy africaine" , Spirit, 7 July 8th, th and th - August 1981.
- "New assumptions on the origins of Burundi" , in the Tree report: Oral traditions of Burundi , under the direction of Léonidas Ndoricimpa and Claude Guillet, 11-52, Paris, Karthala editions, 1984.
- " Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda and Burundi" , in In the middle of the ethnos group. Ethnos groups, tribalism and State in Africa pp. 129-165, 1985.
- " Rwanda: the democracy of the quotas" , Release, November 2nd, 1990.
- "Historical turning point in Burundi and Rwanda " , Tropical Markets, October 1st, 1993.
- "Ethnic purification in Burundi" , Release, October 28th, 1993.
- "A Nazism tropical" , Release, April 26th, 1994.
- " Rwanda-France: the dead angle. Nicolas Sarkozy must make a speech tomorrow on the African policy of France." , Release, July 25th, 2007, by Christian Jean-Pierre and JEAN-FRANÇOIS DUPAQUIER, journalist.
- Interview on the area of the Big lakes * Bibliographical file bench by Christian Jean-Pierre on the Rwandan genocide * Conference as a guest at the university of Carleton * File coordinated by Christian Jean-Pierre in Africa and Histoire , 3,2005, " Misery of Afro pessimisme" * Critical addressed by Bernard Lugan:
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