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The politics of trauma Prof Michael Humphrey Department of Sociology & Social Policy SSPS, ARTS University of Sydney Prof Michael Humphrey Department of.

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Presentation on theme: "The politics of trauma Prof Michael Humphrey Department of Sociology & Social Policy SSPS, ARTS University of Sydney Prof Michael Humphrey Department of."— Presentation transcript:

1 the politics of trauma Prof Michael Humphrey Department of Sociology & Social Policy SSPS, ARTS University of Sydney Prof Michael Humphrey Department of Sociology & Social Policy SSPS, ARTS University of Sydney

2 Taxi driver: “Have you found any skeletons from 1959, my cousin disappeared then?” Nora Morales de Cortinas - Madres de Plaza de Mayo, Línea Fundadora

3 age of anxiety trauma ‘our relationship to history has turned tragic’ (Fassin 2009) heroes v. victims

4 Trauma trace of the tragic event from bodily weakness to embodiment of humanity source of social visibility of victims clinically - PTSD publicly - compassion

5 traumatic event as shared experience - ‘communion of suffering’ produces a lasting form of collective identity metaphor of trauma: used to bring everyone together

6 Trauma production of victims make visible to others - professionals make visible to victims themselves- victimhood

7 legitimacy of trauma attraction: resilience of humanity against moral destruction in the name of this humanity compensation is demanded testimony is given against oppression proof of cruelty experienced

8 from compassion to justice trauma - source of visibility rights - translated into claims role of trauma in framing violence and interpreting its effects is Insufficiently recognised

9 trauma & human rights lens victims of past violence universalising discourses human rights (humanity) trauma/suffering (body) inclusive (formal equality)

10 human rights lens human rights legitimating language for claims remedies in law national, international courts

11 trauma lens trauma - moral vision who has rights? BECOMES who is deserving? moral economies circumscribe rights

12 truth politics victim-centred truth commissions private memory, collective memory testimony proof compensation mode of governance: inscribing meaning on the suffering of the victim

13 victim vulnerability memory - traumatic event injustice - rights claims culpability - individualised v. generalised governance - produce consensus

14 truth politics, victimhood justice reconciliation truth amnesty memory victimhood recognition forgiveness healing

15 DISAPPEARED - ARGENTINA Página 12 21/1/2005

16 la noche de los lápcies 30 yrs el silencio es salud

17

18 world aids day 2005 piquete against corruption 2008

19 Nunca Más, 1984 CONADEP report Amnesty 1986

20 Street Protests Beware! Beware! neighbours, there’s an assassin living next door to you! Challenge normalization of living with repressors by shaming scrachando_01.jpg ESCRACHE

21 weekly march Plaza de Mayo Madres: Línea Fundadora Headscarves embroidered with children’s names Carry portraits of children in Plaza Bodies as sites of past memory custodians of ESMA Madres: Asociación Plain headscarves No portraits Children remain alive in them: perpetually pregnant Embody their children’s activism

22 Public Memorial - ESMA

23 Outcomes - hierarchy of victims Chile National Truth and Reconciliation Commission : investigate HRVs resulting in death families of disappeared - the ‘most innocent’ National Commission on Imprisonment and Torture, : prisoners - compensated

24 Victims Law - Colombia compensated: victims of paramilitary & guerrilla groups not compensated: victims of the security forces - executions, disappearances except when perpetrator found guilty (with intent or serious negligence)

25 future impunity VICTIMS LAW - COLOMBIA denies compensation for future violence ignores restitution of millions of hectares of land (stolen by paramilitary groups)- indigenous pops, peasants compensates out of solidarity, denies responsibility

26 Victims who persist Public support can shift between victims v. non-victims between victims v. victims Why? demand for redistributive justice demand for retributive justice reparations - decline amnesty reparations justice

27 moral economies closure on truth politics amnesty laws Uruguay : recent plebiscite on amnesty laws- between those who demand justice and those who feel the time has passed

28 politics of grievance what do you do with grief? grievance/ resentment (Robert Meister) continue the struggle against perpetrators and the beneficiaries of previous injustice

29 politics of resentment balance the fear beneficiaries have of revenge with the moral recognition of the victim - the wrong done to them transitional Justice - if done to the right degree, with correct restraint can secure democracy

30 Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos ley de memoria histórica de españa buena memoria del estado

31 Democratic transition Spain Amnesty 1977 ‘equitable impunity’ - amnesty of all for all, forgetting of all for all profound erasure designed to touch everyone, the whole society Socialist party nervous avoidance of republican or communist symbols in electioneering thru demonisation and stigmatisation

32 Amnesty - buena memoria personal memory of repression remained isolated subordination of private to public memory (memory of the state) mourning local not national recognition limited to financial compensation, not public testimonies - 6 laws between )

33 impunity profound: the negative legacies of the state (dictatorship) destroyed legal and political vigilance left undisturbed the decisions of special tribunals against the resistance and its repression

34 irreparable damage, ‘sorry’ has no effect? history v. socialisation of knowledge

35 reparations ley de memoria histórica de españa 2007 desire for moral reparation and reconstruction of personal and family memory of those who suffered the consequences of the war and dictatorship

36 *Magistrate Baltasar Garzón *On trial for investigating 113,000 disappeared of the dictatorship *Prosecution initIated by ‘Clean hands’ and ‘falange española’. Allege he violated the 1977 Amnesty Law! * career over? WRONG PROSECUTION?

37 Argentine courts to investigate crimes of Franco regime f Franquismo! use principle of universal justice to investigate the crimes of Franco regime Carlos Slepoy - one of lawyers who initiating claim (exile, Socialist militant, involved in Scilingo trial) petitioners - major human rights bodies, victims associations, unions and the Association of Historical Memory of Spain

38 moral economies trauma obscures conflicts (before trauma, behind trauma) trauma chooses its victims good/bad victim identification / othering

39 trauma consensus trauma - disconnected from subjectivity ritualised duty of memory shallowness: feeling the experience of the victim confirm victimhood as identity consensus around pity, not causes

40 Refugees international rights of asylum Australian policy circumscribing refugee rights compassion

41 from compassion to rights AUstralia - boat arrivals testimony: prevent victims from being heard proof : narrative, scars, trauma compensation: conditional visas

42 victims marginalised: if their story does not fit or they belong to wrong category if they can’t prove bodily traces of trauma denying the trauma of one individual can mean denying the suffering of whole populations Sri Lanka, Afghanistan now ‘safe’

43 Universalising discourses trauma human rights inclusive discources become basis for division between people

44 trauma event accessible thru subjectivity, memory, feelings of victim? victim testimony - enmeshed in forms of governmentality conceptualisation of event, validity of memory, moral criteria of recognition

45 Fassin D, Rechtman R Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood. Princeton, Oxford: Princeton University Press


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