Susan Thomson Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies

Colgate Directory


Susan Thomson

Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies
Peace & Conflict Studies, 223 Alumni Hall
p 315-228-6068


BA, Saint Mary's University (Canada); LLB, University College London (UK); MA, PhD, Dalhousie University (Canada)


State-society relations in Africa, in particular power relations between the state and individuals in post-conflict countries; urban refugees and internally displaced persons; Rwanda; Kenya; research ethics and methodology.

Professional Experience

  • July 1998 - December 2000: Resident coordinator, Anglophone Lecturers in Law Project, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Law Project, Faculté de Droit, National University of Rwanda, Butare, Rwanda.
  • September 1997 - July 1998: Human rights programme officer, Justice Sector, United Nations Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda, United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, Gitarama/Kibuye Sub-Office, Rwanda.
  • September 1994 - August 1997: Associate programme officer, Best Practices and Local Leadership Programme, United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, Nairobi, Kenya.
  • August 1993 - September 1994: Researcher, Women in Human Settlements Development Programme, United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, Nairobi, Kenya.


Peer-Reviewed Books

  • Rwanda: A Phoenix from the Ashes of Genocide? New Haven, CT: Yale University Press (under contract. Manuscript due April 20, 2014).
  • Whispering Truth to Power: Everyday Resistance to Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda.  Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press (July 2013).
Peer-Reviewed Co-Edited Book

  • Thomson, Susan, An Ansoms and Jude Murison, eds. (2013) Emotional and Ethical Challenges for Field Research in Africa: The Story Behind the Findings. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • “Rhetorical Legacies of Leadership:  Projections of ‘Benevolent Leadership’ in Pre- and Post-Genocide Rwanda” (with Marie-Eve Desrosiers) Journal of Modern African Studies, 49(3), August 2011, pp. 431-455.
  • “The Darker Side of Transitional Justice: The Power Dynamics behind Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts” Africa, 81(3), August 2011, pp. 373-390.
  • “Whispering Truth to Power: The Everyday Resistance of Peasant Rwandans to Post-Genocide Reconciliation” African Affairs, 100(440), July 2011, pp. 439-456.
  • “Law, Power and Justice: What Legalism Fails to Address in the Functioning of Rwanda’s Gacaca Court” (with Rosemary Nagy) International Journal of Transitional Justice, 5(1), March 2011, pp. 11-30.
  • “Local Power Relations and Household Gender Dynamics: Assessing Rwanda’s Claim to Universal HIV/AIDS Treatment in Context” Special Issue on HIV/AIDS, Human Security and Governance in Africa: Canadian Journal of African Studies, 44(3), February 2011, pp. 552-578.
  • “La politique d’unité et de réconciliation nationale au Rwanda: figures imposées et résistance au quotidien” Genèses, 81(4), decembre 2010, pp. 49-63.
  • “Getting Close to Rwandans since the Genocide: Studying Everyday Life in Highly Politicized Research Settings” African Studies Review, 53(3), December 2010, pp. 19-34.
  • “Ethnic Twa and Rwandan National Unity and Reconciliation Policy” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 21(3), July 2009, pp. 313-320.
Peer-Reviewed Chapters in Books

  • “Peasant Perspectives on National Unity and Reconciliation:  Building Peace or Promoting Division?” In Maddalena Campioni and Patrick Noack (eds.) Rwanda Fast Forward: Social, Economic, Military and Reconciliation Prospects.  London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012, pp. 96-110.
  • “Re-education for Reconciliation: Participant Observations on Ingando” in Scott Straus and Lars Waldorf (eds.) Reconstructing Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence.  Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2011, pp. 331-339.
  • “‘That is not what we authorised you to do…’: Access and government interference in highly politicised research environments” in Chandra Lekha Sriram, John C. King, Julie A. Mertus, Olga Martín-Ortega and Johanna Herman (eds.) Surviving Field Research: Working in violent and difficult situations. London: Routledge, 2009, pp. 108-124.