War and Memory: Bearing Witness to Loss in Everyday Life
Political violence, state terror, exceptionalism, and the traumatic effects of war are the focus of this vibrant interdisciplinary symposium.
Building on its history in Nuremberg, the field of international criminal law has been reinvigorated by an increased focus on accountability and punishment for the perpetrators of “crimes of hate/crimes of state.”
Witnessing represents a political opportunity for underrepresented, oppressed, and discriminated sectors of a society to make their grievances heard and provide a vehicle for emerging democracies to redress past harms, claim reparations, and construct a lasting peace within and across borders.
The Carlton and Wilberta Ripley Savage Endowment for International Relations and Peace
Partial list of speakers:
Ester Alvarenga, (Asociación Pro Búsqueda de Niñas y Niños Desaparecidos, El Salvador), Carlos Aguirre, (University of Oregon) bio, Rebecca Atencio (Tulane) bio / abstract, Almudena Bernabeú (Center for Justice and Accountability) bio, Kamari Clarke, (Yale) bio / abstract, Dennis Galvan, (University of Oregon) bio, Marlon García, (Archivo General de Centro América) bio / abstract, Lisa Gilman, (University of Oregon) bio / abstract, Siba Grovogui, (Johns Hopkins) bio / abstract, Ernesto Hernandez-Lopez, (Chapman Law School) bio / abstract, William Johnson (University of Oregon) abstract, Lisa Laplante (University of Connecticut) bio / abstract, Gabriela Martinez (University of Oregon) bio / abstract, Gustavo Meoño, (Director, Archivo Histórico de la Policia Nacional, Guatemala) bio, Daniel Miller (University of Oregon) bio / abstract, Vasuki Nesiah (New York University) bio / abstract, Lynn Stephen, (University of Oregon), Sherene Razack (University of Toronto) bio / abstract, Galya Ruffer, (Northwestern University) bio / abstract, Cheyney Ryan, (University of Oregon) bio, Paul Slovic, (University of Oregon) bio, Lynn Stephen, (University of Oregon) bio / abstract, Kimberly Theidon, (Harvard) bio / abstract, Kirsten Weld, (Harvard) bio / abstract, Stephanie Wood, (University of Oregon) bio
Arturio Arias, University of Texas
Arturo Arias is a professor of Latin American literature at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a well-known expert on Central American literature, with a special emphasis on indigenous literature, as well as critical theory, race, gender and sexuality in postcolonial studies. Arias previously taught at San Francisco State University and the University of Redlands in Southern California. He is also a past president of the Latin American Studies Association.
Arias holds a Ph.D. in Sociology of Literature from L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes Paris, France. He has published seven novels and four academic books. He received the Casa de las Américas prize for his novel Itzam Na, the Anna Seghers award for his novel Jaguar en llamas and the Casa de las Américas prize in essay for his book Ideología, Literatura y Sociedad durante the Revolución Guatemalteca. His most recent novel is Arias de Don Giovanni.
Kate Doyle, National Security Archive, George Washington University
Kate Doyle is a senior analyst of U.S. policy in Latin America for the National Security Archive at George Washington University. She currently directs the Mexico Project, which aims to obtain documents on U.S.-Mexican relations. Since 1992, Doyle has worked with Latin American human rights organizations and truth commissions, in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to obtain the declassification of U.S. government archives in support of their investigations.
Doyle co-authored the 1994 report of the Washington Task Force on Salvadoran Death Squads, which examined the resurgence of death squads in El Salvador after the signing of the peace accords. She published the Guatemalan death squad dossier in Harper's Magazine, and led the group of human rights organizations who briefed the press on the dossier in May 1999. In September 2002, Doyle appeared as an expert witness in the trial of senior military officers in Guatemala for the assassination of Myrna Mack. In 2002, Doyle was awarded the Iberoamerican University's annual "Right to Information Prize.
Carlos Aguirre, University of Oregon
Carlos Aguirre is a social historian specializing in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Peru and Latin America. He has written extensively about slavery, abolition, crime and punishment. More recently, he has expanded his research interests into the history of the book and the printing press, the history of intellectuals, the history of soccer and the role of archives in the shaping of historical research and writing. He is currently working on a book manuscript on the history of political imprisonment in twentieth-century Peru, as well as two edited books on the history of Lima.
Rebecca Atencio, Tulane University
Rebecca Atencio is an assistant professor at Tulane University. Atencio focuses on Luso-Brazilian Literary and Cultural Studies. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Brazilian and Latin American literature, film, and cultural studies. Her main area of research is Brazil's post-dictatorial literary and cultural production. She is currently completing a book manuscript that examines a growing subset of contemporary Brazilian cultural works that contribute to national debates over the legacies of the military dictatorship and that intervene in the country's process of transitional justice.
Atencio holds a Ph.D. in Portuguese from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her recent publications include “A Prime Time to Remember: Memory Merchandising in Globo's Anos Rebeldes,"which appeared in Accounting for Violence: The Memory Market in Latin America. She was awarded the Sturgis Leavitt Prize for Best Article by the Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies.
Almudena Bernabeu, Transitional Justice Program for the Center for Justice and Accountability
Almudena Bernabeu is an international attorney and Director of Transitional Justice Program for the Center for Justice and Accountability. She is licensed to practice law in Spain and currently works in San Francisco. Bernabeu works on US-based civil alien tort statute litigation against human rights abusers and universal jurisdiction criminal human rights prosecutions before the Spanish National Court. By filing cases in the Spanish national court, which practices universal jurisdiction, she helped obtain extradition orders for the 20 El Salvadoran military officers implicated in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuits, and in 2011, she persuaded the court to include the rapes of 100, 000 Mayan women in its ongoing investigation of the Guatemalan government for genocide.
Bernabeu has also worked on asylum and human rights cases for Amnesty International-Spain and researched and investigated cases before the European Court of Human Rights. She serves as a board member at Equatorial Guinea Justice, a U.S. based Human Rights organization. She is Vice-President of the Spanish Association for Human Rights, and a member of the advisory board of the Peruvian Institute of Forensic Anthropology, a forensic group providing evidence on human rights violations investigations and prosecutions. Bernabeu received her J.D. from the University of Valencia School of Law, where she specialized in Public International Law. In 2012, Bernabeu won the prestigious Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize.
Kamari Clarke, Yale University
Kamari Clarke is a professor of Anthropology and International and Area Studies at Yale University. Clarke’s research explores issues related to religious nationalism, legal institutions, international law, the interface between culture, power and globalization and its relationship to race and modernity. Her current research lies at the intersections between legal and religious knowledge, contemporary crises over the state accommodations of cultural differences and the ways that different cultural agents seek to enforce, legitimatize and authorize decision-making. She is the Chair of the Yale Council on African Studies and is a collaborative partner of the distinguished Leadership Enterprise for African Development, a project that seeks to deepen the process of reform and revitalization in African countries by strengthening leadership and governance capacity in the public, business and civil society sectors.
Clarke received an M.A. in Anthropology from The New School for Social Research, a Master in the Study of Law from Yale University, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa-Cruz. During her academic career she has held numerous prestigious fellowships, grants and awards:a two-year President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley; a Social Sciences and the Humanities Research Council of Canada fellowship; and Ford Foundation, Wenner Gren Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation grants.
Dennis Galvan, University of Oregon
Professor Dennis Galvan's research explores competing models of development and multiple modernities, ethnic cooperation and nation building, political legitimation and governance and the search for locally meaningful and sustainable models of social change in the Global South. He has conducted field research in West Africa since 1986, primarily in a cluster of thirty villages in the Sine (Fatick) region of rural Senegal, and in Central Java, Indonesia since 1999. New and emerging projects draw him to comparative work on Latin America, especially Argentina. Central to all his work is a concern for how ordinary people adaptively transform the nation-state, markets, law, local government and natural resource management systems to suit their changing and mutable notions of morality, heritage and identity.
Marlon García, (Archivo General de Centro América)
Artista Visual, Licenciado en Artes Visuales y Archivista. García ha contribuido por 25 años en organizaciones sociales y científicas con sus habilidades en la elaboración de dibujos, fotografías e infografías para el esclarecimiento de la guerra en Guatemala. Sus trabajos han sido parte de los informes de investigaciones como la Comisión de la Verdad de Guatemala y la Comisión Vicepresidencial para el esclarecimiento de experimentos con guatemaltecos por parte del Departamento de Salud de los Estados Unidos. Actualmente la Universidad de Oregon publica via internet el catálogo de su obra visual Panzós, 33 años después la cual trata sobre sus descubrimientos acerca del vínculo entre la masacre de Panzós en 1978 y las concesiones dadas por los regímenes militares a transnacionales mineras canadienses. Tras su trabajo como fotógrafo forense en dos equipos científicos en Guatemala, ha trabajado en proyectos técnico-archivísticos desarrollados en el Archivo General de Centro América desde 2002. Actualmente se desempeña como Funcionario de Enlace entre este archivo y el Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional.
Lisa Gilman, University of Oregon
Lisa Gilman is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Oregon where she teaches courses in Folklore, African Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies. Her research explores intersections between music, dance, politics and gender. She published The Dance of Politics: Gender, Performance, and Democratization in Malawi with Temple University Press. She is currently researching the musical practices of American troops deployed to Iraq and making a documentary film Boots on the Grounds about American veterans of the Iraq war involved in the anti-war movement.
Ernesto Hernández-López joined the Chapman University School of Law in 2005 and was promoted to Professor of Law with tenure in 2011. He is currently writing a book titled Empire of Guantánamo: a History of a Legal Black Hole, to be published by NYU Press. His research focuses on international law, post-colonialism, law and culture, law and food, and immigration. He has published articles in U.S. legal journals such as the UC Irvine Law Review, SMU Law Review, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, and European law and South American journals. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Minority Groups. In 2008, the Latin American business magazine Poder 360 named him as one of the “Top 50 Colombian Intellectuals in the United States.” He earned his J.D. from the George Washington University School of Law in 2001. Before law school, he served as an International Relations Research Professor at the Universidad del Rosario and as a Political Science Professor at the Universidad Javeriana, both in Santafé de Bogóta, Colombia. He earned an M.A. with Academic Excellence in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University in 1996 and a B.A. with a double major in Latin American Studies (Honors) and History from the University of Texas at Austin in 1994. Professor Hernández-López is a native speaker and writer of English and Spanish, fluent in Portuguese, and proficient in French.
Siba Grovugui, John’s Hopkins University
Siba Grovugui is a political science professor at John’s Hopkins University. He specializes in international relations theory and political theory. Grovogui has written frequently about African sovereignty, including Sovereigns, Quasi-Sovereigns, and Africans: Race and Self-Determination in International Law (1996) and "Regimes of Sovereignty: Rethinking International Morality and the African Condition."
Grovugui taught previously at Eastern Michigan University and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a law degree from the Institut Polytechnique Gamal Abdel Nasser in Guinea.
Will Johnson, University of Oregon
Will Johnson is a concurrent degree candidate at the University of Oregon, pursuing a JD in the School of Law and a Masters degree from the Department of International Studies. As a SYLFF Fellow (2011-2012) he spent three months working in El Salvador during the summer of 2011, where he conducted independent research and interned with Asociación Pro-Búsqueda de Niños y Niñas Desaparecidos. His academic interests include international criminal and human rights law, corruption and how models of transitional justice help rebuild post-conflict societies. His M.A. thesis project explores how levels of perceived corruption and impunity act as a barrier to the rule of law in states confronting systemic violence, and how lawyers work within what outsiders consider to be corrupt judicial systems. Johnson was recently awarded a short-term Lecture and Research Fellowship from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS - CAORC Member Institution), and is intending to travel to Islamabad in the coming months to continue research with Pakistani lawyers, judges, and other government officials. His undergraduate degree (BA) was also in international Studies, with a concentration in diplomacy, law and international relations in Latin America.
Lisa Laplante, University of Connecticut
Lisa Laplante is a research fellow at the University of Connecticut School of Law. She has directed studies funded by the Ford Foundation and United States Institute of Peace on themes connected to transitional justice, including reparations, mental health, criminal justice and civic transformation. These projects have resulted in invitations to present at conferences in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. Additionally, her work can be found in numerous books and law journals as well as inter-disciplinary peer-reviewed publications. Her article “The Law of Remedies and the Clean Hands Doctrine: Exclusionary Reparation Policies in Peru’s Political Transition,” published in the American University International Law Review, won the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law’s Human Rights Prize in 2007. That same year, her article “On the Indivisibility of Rights: Truth Commissions, Reparations and the Right to Development,” published in the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, won the José María Arguedas Article prize awarded by the Latin American Studies Association. From 2008 through 2009 she directed a trial monitoring project of the human rights trial of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, funded by the Open Society Institute. Most recently, she was a visiting assistant professor at Marquette Law School.
Laplante earned her J.D. from New York University School of Law where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar. She also holds a Masters in Education from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, where she became trained in conflict mediation and specialized in service learning.
Gabriella Martinez, University of Oregon
Gabriela Martínez is an international award-winning documentary filmmaker who has produced, directed or edited more than ten ethnographic and social documentaries, including Ñakaj, Textiles in the Southern Andes, Mamacoca, and Qoyllur Rit’i: A Woman’s Journey. Her experience as a documentary maker and researcher gives Martínez a unique and broad approach for the teaching and sharing of theoretical knowledge as well as hands-on production skills.
Media ownership, media culture, media trans-nationalism and globalization are some of the topics at the core of Martinez’s research. The global circulation of technologies and cultural products and the economic, social, cultural and political impact in Third World countries, especially Latin America, are included in her research interests. Recent publications include Latin American Telecommunications: Telefónica's Conquest and Cinema Law in Latin America: Brazil, Peru, and Colombia.
Gustavo Meoño, National Police Archives of Guatemala
Gustavo Meoño is the Coordinator of the National Police Archives of Guatemala, and directs the project for the recuperation of these archives. As the lead investigator on the archives for the national ombudsman's office, Meoño has been actively involved in both the preservation of the archive's documents and in collecting evidence from these documents to provide accounts of human rights abuses committed during the country's 36-year civil war. Meoño has served as president of the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation, an organization based in Guatemala City that has played a crucial role in struggles against impunity for human rights violations related to prolonged armed conflict in the country.
Dan Miller, University of Oregon
Daniel Miller, PhD, greatly enjoys teaching students about the history of documentary films and how to make award-winning documentaries of their own. In addition to being a teacher, he is a musician, photographer and a documentary filmmaker. Before his tenure at the University of Oregon, he taught at Hofstra University and the University of Maryland at College Park. Currently he teaches classes on documentary film history and theory together with classes on documentary production. He is offering a special topics documentary history class that is about the relationship of documentary films to war and conflict. In 1996 he founded the Oregon Documentary Project, which has supported the production of over 60 award-winning student documentary films for public and commercial broadcast. These include the Emmy-winning The Heppner Flood in 1996, the National College Television Awards selection, Behind these Walls in 2007, the Cannes Film Festival Selection, Art in a Time of War in 2008, and the Emmy and 2010 recipient of the National Society of Professional Journalists Award Inside Looking Out. He is proud and happy to live in Oregon, to study and promote its history, society and culture and to continue to contribute to the state, the university and the UO School of Journalism and Communication in the area of documentary film.
Miller’s research includes both written scholarship and filmmaking. He is a featured contributor to the book Inventing Vietnam, and has an article on “Film, War, and Memory,” and another article on “Joris Ivens, Ernest Hemingway, and The Spanish Earth” forthcoming as book chapters. He is currently researching and writing a book entitled Documenting War: A Survey of Documentary Film and Photojournalism on War and Conflict. He has recently presented papers (accepted for publication) on the classic war documentaries Night and Fog (Renoir, 1955), Hearts and Minds (Davis, 1975), Taxi to the Dark Side (Gibney, 2008) and The Spanish Earth (Ivens and Hemingway, 1937), presented at the 2009 Symposium on Democracy at Kent State University and the 2010 International Hemingway Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland.
His own filmmaking has featured history, media aesthetics, public interest and social issue documentaries. His first film was a Master’s thesis project film on the relationship between two sisters suffering from cancer, and his latest film, Fire in the Heartland, is about the 1970 shootings at Kent State and Jackson State University. His recent work includes Dream to Fly, about Howard Hughes' aviation achievements, Making Pictures, about the Eugene Register Guard’s influential photojournalism staff, What We Could Carry, about Japanese American Students at the University of Oregon during WWII, and Fire in the Heartland, about the student civil rights and anti-war movements and the shootings that took place at Kent State and at Jackson State universities on May 4 and May 14, 1970. This film was an official selection at the 2010 Cleveland International Film Festival and the opening event at the 40th Anniversary Commemoration of the shootings at Kent and Jackson from May 1-May 4, 2010. The 40th Anniversary Commemoration keynote speaker and civil rights leader, Congressman John Lewis, is featured with many others. During the 2009-2010 academic year, Miller was on sabbatical conducting research in archives, museums and on battlefields, and writing his book, Documenting War in London, Madrid, Berlin, Paris, Krakow, Auschwitz and Amsterdam.
Vasuki Nesiah, New York University
Vasuki Nesiah is an associate professor at New York University and teaches human rights, law and social theory and international legal studies. Currently her main areas of research include the law and politics of international human rights and humanitarianism, with a particular focus on transitional justice. Her past publications have engaged with different dimensions of public international law, including human rights and humanitarian law, the international legal history of colonialism and international feminisms. She has also written on the politics of memory and comparative constitutionalism, with a particular focus on law and politics in South Asia. Before entering the academy full time, Nesiah spent several years in practice at the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), where she worked on law and policy issues in the field of post-conflict human rights. She serves on the international editorial committees of the journals Feminist Legal Studies and the London Review of International Law. She also serves on the International Advisory Board of the Institute of International Law and the Humanities at the University of Melbourne, and is an Associate Fellow with the Asia Society.
Originally from Sri Lanka, Nesiah earned her B.A. in Philosophy and Government at Cornell University, was a Visiting Student in the PPE program at Oxford University, and earned her J.D. and S.J.D. at Harvard Law School. She received a post-doctoral fellowship in human rights at Columbia Law School.
Sherene Razack, University of Toronto
Sherene Razack is a professor at the University of Toronto. Her research and teaching interests lie in the area of race and gender issues in the law. She has published articles on Canadian national mythologies and immigration policies of the 1990s, race, space and citizenship, and marginality and the politics of resistance.
Galya Ruffer, Northwestern University
Galya Ruffer is a professor of political science at Northwestern University. Her research centers on questions of citizenship and human rights with a particular focus on immigrant integration, refugees and the process of international justice. Her current projects include a monograph, Citizens, that draws upon constitutional theory to offer a conceptual framework within which to understand immigrant controversies in the U.S. and Europe and research on the use of testimonies and the processes of international justice in addressing the consequences of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo through rule of law. She is the founder of the Center for Forced Migration Studies at the Buffet Center for International and Comparative Studies at Northwestern University.
Ruffer received her J.D. from Northwestern University and her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Aside from her academic work, Ruffer has worked as an immigration attorney representing political asylum claimants both as a solo-practitioner and as a pro-bono attorney at the National Immigrant Justice Center.
Cheyney Ryan, University of Oregon
Cheyney Ryan teaches at the U of Oregon fall term, where he is a professor in the CRES program. In addition to his course on the philosophy of conflict resolution, he teaches a joint CRES/Honors College class on restorative justice. In winter and spring he is a senior fellow at Oxford University, where he works with the program on ethics, law and armed conflict. He has published widely on issues of war and peace, with a special interest in the pacifism and non-violence. He is a founder of the CRES program and the undergraduate program in peace studies. At Oxford, he is involved with other faculty developing a peace studies program. He has received numerous awards for his work on peace and human rights, including the "Humanitarian of the Year" award from the Oregon Jewish Federation for his work on holocaust education. He has been named one of the top figures in peace education by the Washington Post. He has a side-career as a playwright; for many years he worked with the theater group, Teatro Nuestro, doing plays (in Spanish) on the dangers of pesticides throughout the West Coast. Further information on Ryan can be found in his vita. He has an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston University, and was a Liberal Arts Fellow at Harvard Law School.
Paul Slovic, University of Oregon
Paul Slovic studies judgment and decision processes with an emphasis on decision making under conditions of risk. His work examines fundamental issues such as the influence of affect on judgments and decisions. He also studies the factors that underlie perceptions of risk and attempts to assess the importance of these perceptions for the management of risk in society. His most recent research examines psychological factors contributing to apathy toward genocide. He no longer does classroom teaching but does advise students in their research.
Slovic is a founder and president of Decision Research, which studies human judgment, decision making and risk analysis. He and his colleagues worldwide have developed methods to describe risk perceptions and measure their impacts on individuals, industry and society. He publishes extensively and serves as a consultant to industry and government. Slovic is a past President of the Society for Risk Analysis and in 1991 received its Distinguished Contribution Award. In 1993 he received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association. In 1995 he received the Outstanding Contribution to Science Award from the Oregon Academy of Science. He has received honorary doctorates from the Stockholm School of Economics (1996) and the University of East Anglia (2005).
Lynn Stephen, University of Oregon
Lynn Stephen is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies at the University of Oregon and director of the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS).She is also a co-coordinator for “The Americas in a Globalized World: Linking Diversity and Internationalization.”
Her work has centered on the intersection of culture and politics. Born in Chicago, Illinois, she has a particular interest in the ways that political identities articulate with ethnicity, gender, class and nationalism in relation to local, regionaland national histories, cultural politics and systems of governance in Latin America. During the past ten years she has added the dimension of migration to her research. She has conducted research in Mexico, El Salvador, Chile, Brazil and the U.S.
Kimberly Theidon, Harvard University
Kimberly Theidon is a medical anthropologist and professor at Harvard University. Her research interests include political violence, transitional justice, reconciliation and the politics of post-war reparations. She is the author of Entre Prójimos: El conflicto armado interno y la política de la reconciliación en el Perú and Intimate Enemies: Violence and Reconciliation in Peru., as well as many articles. She is currently completing a book, entitled Pasts Imperfect: Working with Former Combatants in Colombia, based on research with former combatants from the paramilitaries. Theidon is also documenting an ethnographically grounded study of reparations, gender and justice in Speaking of Silences: Sexual Violence and Redress in Peru.
Theidon received her M.A. in Anthropology and her Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. She is also the executive director of Praxis Institute for Social Justice.
Kirsten Weld, Harvard University
Kirsten Weld is an assistant professor of history at Harvard University. She is a historian of modern Latin America, specializing in 20th-century Mexico, Central America and the Southern Cone. Her research interests include revolutionary and counterrevolutionary movements, the Cold War, dictatorships and transitional justice, memory, indigenous and First Nations history, and the politics of history, history-writing and archival access in society writ large. Her first book, Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala, is forthcoming and is a historical and ethnographic study of the archives generated by Guatemala's National Police. In addition to her academic work, she periodically serves as an expert witness on behalf of Central American immigrants facing deportation.
Weld holds a Ph.D. from Yale University. She previously taught at Brandeis University as the Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Latin American History.
Stephanie Wood, University of Oregon
Stephanie Wood’s research has as its focus the histories of indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, especially during the Spanish colonial era, and with special attention to the Nahuas. Besides working with Spanish-language manuscripts, she works with alphabetic manuscripts written in Nahuatl and she is increasingly interested in indigenous-authored pictorial manuscripts, lienzos and the multicultural maps of the Relaciones Geográficas of the sixteenth century. Her interest in primordial titles relates to a concern for the defense of indigenous land tenure in the face of invasion and colonization by Europeans. Sometimes this dire need on the part of pueblos to defend their territories led to what Europeans would see as contrivances in titles and maps, another fascinating issue that deserves nuanced study and explanation. Nuanced study of manuscripts has also led to the desire to perfect our translations, which underlies the efforts she is spearheading to create free, online, searchable lexicons of indigenous languages with attestations from manuscripts.
Arturo Arias, The University of Texas at Austin
Reconfiguring Guatemalan Historical Memory: The Lived Experience of Maya Women at War
Nothing had been published on women indigenous combatants until Ligia Peláez edited Memorias rebeldes contra el olvido: Paasantzila Txumb’al Ti’ Sortzeb’al K’u’l, portraying the voices of Maya Ixil and K’iche’ women. During the war they fought with the Guerrilla Army of the Poor. When the war ended in 1996, they returned to their hometown. About 600 of them founded the Kumool Association in 1999.
Peláez’s text functions as a space for memory and for dialogue, offering a necessary space for personal remembrance. Ultimately, with the example of women combatants we are presented with a new framework within the geopolitics of knowledge, one demanding respect for pluralizations of subaltern difference anchored in gender and ethnic difference. This framework produces a place-based epistemology that offers a new theoretical and political logic. It confirms that heightening social conflict, new citizens’ protagonism, and abandonment of traditional political party practices can lead to ontological-political de-centering of modern politics, in the words of Marisol de la Cadena (2007), conjoining what Arturo Escobar calls an alternative modernization, with a decolonial project, where what is at stake is the end of coloniality.
Rebecca Atencio, Tulane University
Made to be Remembered: Can Telenovelas Promote Transitional Justice in Brazil?
Can television dramas that address Brazil’s authoritarian period and its legacies help promote transitional justice? In my earlier work (2011) on the Globo miniseries Anos Rebeldes, I concluded that the answer is probably no, insofar as the program “ultimately did little to transmit the memory of the military dictatorship.” However, recent developments in Brazil’s transitional justice process—including the establishment of a national truth commission—have led me to reevaluate this position. Lack of support from the Brazilian public remains a major obstacle to the implementation of further legal and political steps to redress past rights crimes. Brazil’s mass media has largely worked to reinforce this apathy (Schneider 2012). If the goal is to elicit large-scale public interest in the dictatorship period—and thereby in legal and political steps to address it—then television dramas may provide one of the few vehicles to do so. Brazilian novelas have a long tradition of serving as a forum for debating political and social issues and constructing the idea of nation (Mattelart and Mattelart 1990; Porto 2003). I contend that novelas have two qualities that set them apart from many other vehicles of political debate—entertainment value and ambiguity—and that these qualities make television dramas uniquely suited to public discussion of highly polarizing topic like the military dictatorship. Post-2000 novelas and miniseries such as Senhora do Destino and Queridos Amigos help illustrate this point. Whereas one may argue that entertainment value and ambiguity undermine the political significance of these works by neutralizing the conflicting political demands they dramatize (in fact I myself have expressed that view), I contend that novelas' ability to disseminate alterative versions of the past and the “Never again message” cannot be underestimated, especially in Brazil.
Kamari Clarke, Yale University
Toward an Anthropology of Criminal Violence: The ICC and Africa
Why are African national leaders defying calls for international justice by the International Criminal Court? At a time when resolutions to global violence are so desperately needed, international criminal justice has never been so fraught with controversy. This paper examines how a focus on “local” responses to social suffering, devastation, loss and trauma may require different analytical lenses to make sense of it. It explores the current tensions between international criminal justice and African regional bodies and seeks to understand contestations between human rights activists and the current pursuit by those bodies to prosecute African leaders. By elucidating the multilayered factors involved in negotiating the management of crime and justice in international spheres, the paper explores the current stalemate between the AU and the ICC and, more broadly, to lasting innovations for peace. The end goal is to explore the narrativization of feeling that shapes and results from ICC decisions related to various crimes will analyze justice in relation to the structures of emotions that shape social-political responses and that make them tenable. It presumes that the need to understand these complexities is among the most important solutions for peace in Africa and beyond.
Throughout the 1990s, in regions such as Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda, conflict resolution found little international support, despite obvious connections to global trade circuits, resulting in extreme disparities. In some sub-Saharan African countries, large segments of the population remained external to health services and wealth acquisition, while a small number remained at the center of new nodes of power. Violence and widespread death were the inevitable consequences of such power, exercised by means ranging from the enforcement of licit and illicit regulatory mechanisms that protect persons and property, to the control of economic speculation and investment, to resource control through military and political forms of brokering.
Experiencing ten civil wars in the past two decades—many rooted in mineral resource management, ethnic strife, and religious politics—the African continent is now a key site for the encroachment of a range of international courts and tribunals presented as the new solution to Africa’s resource wars. Further, as African states in increasing numbers have signed and ratified treaties such as the Rome Statute for the ICC, such international treaties are increasingly economically linked to democratic restructuring mandates. These shifts actually lead to the weakening of states’ capacities to protect their borders, manage their populations, and control their markets and currencies, even as regional competitors strengthen their attempts to consolidate power for resource control. It is from within the broader context of these multiple forces, rooted in contestations over resources, access, and political power, that Heads of State of the African Union today debate proposed justice formations. Yet of equal importance, it is also the affective responses of State leaders and others to current struggles over international justice that shape imagined systems for promoting lasting peace.
Although initially a strong supporter of the International Criminal Court, the African Union has emerged in recent years as a strong opponent of the Court’s work. Not only is the ICC under criticism for its disproportionate focus on African cases, but members of the African Union question the court’s basic ability to contribute to ongoing peace processes. The criticism raises two questions: Are trials sufficient for achieving post-violence justice? Should international criminal trials be subordinated to other justice-producing mechanisms available on the African continent? These questions, rigorously debated by members of the AU and its critics on the African continent, have produced two arguments: that of those who say Africa should internalize international human rights norms and bring them into conformity with international standards; and that of those who are interested in vernacularizing international human rights standards according to African sensibilities. The arguments are broad, and yet they concern the viability of the ICC and its ability to achieve justice, especially as it concerns the extent to which justice can only be understood in retributive terms.
Despite the importance of these questions, there have been neither systematic nor ethnographic studies of the various factors involved in negotiating the management of crime in international spheres. Nor have there been systematic or ethnographic studies focused specifically on the substance of emerging rule of law projects which may reveal a less impassioned African-focused sensibility and suggest a more victim-oriented sensibility articulated through the language of justice. In this regard, the paper proposes to address a gap in the current literature with an anthropology of criminal violence and justice, focused on addressing both African and non-African criticisms of the AU and the ICC. And it suggests approaches to seemingly irreconcilable ideological stances by insisting upon a broader paradigm that includes a full acknowledgement of political and economic root causes so often at the heart of any armed conflict. For in the absence of a coordinated approach to preserving human rights and constructing (or reconstructing) functional systems of criminal justice, the tremendous violence taking place in sub-Saharan Africa will surely continue, as multiple brokers—including postcolonial state actors in Africa and elsewhere—vie to control the terms that define the basis for administering justice.
Kate Doyle, The Evidence Project, National Security Archive
The Right to Truth: Archives and Accountability in the Americas
There is a developing consensus within the Inter-American system that the “right to truth” obligates states not only to investigate and prosecute human rights crimes, but to disclose existing government archives connected to those crimes. These archives can serve a reparative function for families of the disappeared, provide human rights investigators and truth-seeking entities with critical (missing) information, and even offer evidence in criminal human rights cases. But although documents chronicling histories of government terror and repression have emerged in several countries across the Americas during the past two decades – in Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Argentina – they are almost exclusively records of the police and other security forces. To date, the armies of Latin America have successfully withheld, concealed or destroyed their own internal archives. In my presentation I’ll look at some of the extraordinary records that have been “exhumed” on state terror in the Americas, explore some of the ways they have been used by societies to reckon with the past, and discuss strategies for advancing the right to truth into the secret files of the militaries.
Marlon García, (Archivo General de Centro América)
Infografía: el retrato de documentos de archivo
Contribuciones del arte a la memoria y la justicia en Guatemala
En esta exposición se aborda la utilidad de la elaboración de gráficos para apoyar la recuperación de la memoria histórica y la justicia en dos casos: las infografías realizadas en apoyo a los peritajes técnico – archivísticos de documentos del archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional, AHPN, Fondo del Archivo General de Centro América, AGCA para ser presentados en los juicios por violaciones de derechos humanos; y la Investigación realizada para sustentar una exposición artística y educativa sobre la masacre de campesinos indígenas de Panzós, del 29 de mayo de 1978.
Los documentos de archivos nacionales guardan la información de los procedimientos realizados por entidades y personas individuales que formaron parte de las estructuras de nuestros gobiernos. En una corte, la presentación de documentos puede conllevar algunas dificultades, por lo que se hace necesario la presencia de los peritos en archivística para poder facilitar al juez su labor. El entendimiento de los documentos de archivo en su contexto es vital para comprender el papel que han desempeñado. En ese sentido los modelos gráficos de esta presentación ejemplifican los procesos de análisis que pueden instrumentarse.
Lisa Gilman, University of Oregon
Grounds for Resistance: Documenting American Veteran Involvement in Anti-War Activism
Inspired by the Vietnam-era coffeehouse movement, young American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars opened Coffee Strong 300 meters outside Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington State in 2008. This non-profit café is a space where soldiers, veterans, and families discuss politics and the impact of war, and it provides resources for combat stress, sexual trauma, navigating veteran benefits, and legal issues. Coffee Strong activists also engage in local and national activism intended to disseminate knowledge about the realities of war, increase resources accessible to troops and veterans, and to pressure the government to end the wars. This presentation is a reflection about the making and distribution of Grounds for Resistance, my documentary about Coffee Strong. The film is an activist project that contributes to Coffee Strong’s goals to make public the emotional and physical violence and injustices that they feel they committed in war as well as those from which they continue to suffer. By making the film collaboratively, it provided these veteran activists one more opportunity to tell a story different from the master narrative about the wars that is widely disseminated through many government and media outlets in the U.S. It thus contributes to the building of alternative collective memories, especially important for those who struggle to justify their contributions to these wars and seek justice for themselves and others. It also provides a perspective not usually available to American civilians and to those in countries impacted by U.S. activities across the world about the diversity of opinions within the U.S. military and the ambivalence and dissent of some charged to carry out U.S. foreign policy.
Siba Grovugui, Johns Hopkins University
Responsibility and Justice: Crimes against Humanity, Demonology, and Discipline in International Politics
The singling out for punishment by the International Criminal Court (or ICC) of so-called crimes against humanity and other forms of violence committed by non-state actors over war crimes and the crime of war is predicated upon the claim that the former are uniquely offensive to humanitarian sensibilities. This is not new when one considers the site of commission of such acts and the political positions of potential culprits. Nor, to postcolonial entities, is the enlisting of an international organization such as the ICC as arbiter of global contentions over international morality beyond the abstract relevancy of indictable violations of international humanitarian law. International law corresponds to a particular historical imaginary: that of a unified order of humankind. Of course, this imaginary was initially European and, as such, based on a uniquely Christian cosmology of subjects, who derived their identities from biblical and ecclesiastical assignations, and these subjects’ relations to other beings, earthly and celestial alike. International law also appears concurrently with European conquest of other regions as a moral device with which to respond to ethical questions emanating from associated events: how human were conquered peoples and other non-Europeans; what to make of their forms of associations and cultures; what responsibilities if any did Christians and Christian powers had toward those they conquered or other infidels; how were heathens and infidels to be treated during commercial transactions and after dispossession; what to do with their lands and property; and finally, what modes of governance were suitable to them and how to go about bringing the related forms of government about.
The colonial act suggests that international law occupies a specific place in a field of power as an instrument that mediates between the declared universalist ideology that law as an indispensable institution in a rule-governed international order and the ambition to hegemonic authoritarianism: a disposition of Western powers to unilaterally legislate, interpret, and adjudicate for all. Yet, as a claim and project on behalf of humanity, international law opened itself up to other possibilities. Particularly, the language of legality and the rule of law have long appeared to the colonized – and now formerly colonized – as an abused imperial plot or play of self-serving idioms in need of rectification. The purpose of the postcolonial rectification was to redefine the content of law; the terms of law-abidance; and, ultimately legal subjectivity in order to bring to the fore new or non-Western conceptions of justice and to preserve a different kind of peace and stability than an imperial one.
The contestations and contentions around the role, competencies, and attributions of the ICC today may be viewed therefore as an opposition between the postcolonial project of rectification of the universalist pretensions of international law, on the one hand, and, on the other, the persistent imperial obstinacy to view the globalization of international morality simply in terms of the conversion of postcolonial entities to Western notions of normativity.
Ernesto Hernandez-Lopez, Chapman University School of Law
Guantánamo and Memory of War: a century of occupation shapes law for an endless War on Terror
The U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba is an instrument for war, capitalizing on legal memory from multiple wars and military interventions since 1898. Occupied since then, Guantánamo aids war-fighting by adding to inherited legal doctrine such as the law of occupation, extraterritoriality, and detentions. Shaping wartime choices, these doctrines function as war’s memory. Guantánamo exemplifies how overseas empires employ law’s memory, in the form of doctrinal normativity, to wage war. War on Terror detentions are a product of and they contribute to American empire. The presentations analyzes Supreme Court cases on detentions in light of the base’s history and its location in Cuba. American law on overseas authority crafted this “legal black hole,” with domestic and international law protections excluded. After a decade of detentions for nearly 800 men, these understandings continue to shape how the Constitution applies overseas. The presentation poses inquiry into: how American law facilitates a “legal black hole,” how this supports War on Terror objectives, and how this contributes to empire. Developing sophisticated doctrine on the Constitution’s extraterritorial reach, detention cases support empire. These legal developments reflect Guantánamo’s historic role. The base was used to intervene in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua; patrol the Caribbean and protect the Panama Canal; and assert regional interests in two World Wars and the Cold War. In essence, doctrinal memory of these events currently shapes the base’s symbolic and normative influence. Cubans and Latin Americans see it as never-ending intervention. American policymakers employ legal lessons from these conflicts, to adapt Guantánamo for future conflicts. As a legacy of past war, the base exemplifies how doctrine and memory shape wartime choices.
William Johnson, University of Oregon
Multiple and Continuous Violation: How the Enforced Disappearance of Children During War Presents a Unique Challenge to Models of Transitional Justice.
How do the cases of enforced disappearance present a particularly difficult challenge for the standard truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) process? In what ways does enforced disappearance differ from other atrocities of war/conflict, and how do these differences inform the way post-conflict governments confront their violent histories in general? This paper will address why the issue of enforced disappearance represents a unique problem for post-conflict regimes that are trying to balance their citizens' individual memories with their state's official history. It will focus on the theme of enforced disappearance in general, with a case study of El Salvador and the NGO Asociación Pro Búsqueda. I argue that the multi-discplinary approach Pro Búsqueda takes to confronting this problem - using domestic and international criminal law, education programs, group therapy, and social advocacy - highlights both the ongoing challenge and the possible solutions to dealing with this unique issue of war and memory.
Lisa J. Laplante, Interim Director, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut
Negotiating Reparation Rights: The Participatory and Symbolic Quotients
With each new transitional justice experience, the centrality and importance of providing reparations to victims becomes more evident, especially as more truth commissions recommend them. Reparations may include both pecuniary payments and non-pecuniary goods and services to redress serious harms caused by political violence. Despite their growing popularity, the implementation of reparation programs challenge governments, especially when trying to organize individualized economic reparations to hundreds of potential beneficiaries. Governments generally opt for large scale administrative reparation programs in which a single quantum can be distributed to all qualified beneficiaries. Yet, because such a quantum is not tailored to individual suffering and is often significantly inferior to any civil damage award that could be expected from individual litigation, economic reparation programs always run the risk of rejection by the very population they are intended to benefit: the victim-survivors. This presentation explores this contemporary problem by looking at Peru’s experience with implementing a national economic reparations program. The Peruvian government’s recent proposals for an economic reparation package met with great resistance and even rejection from victim-survivors. While such difficulties can never be completely avoided, this presentation proposes two ways in which the Peruvian government could have safeguarded against this outcome: First, the Peruvian government could have cultivated more buy-in to its program had it guaranteed the right to participation and ongoing consultation with the intended beneficiaries. Second, while negotiations may occur with regard to the actual modality and means of distributing economic reparations, it should never compromise the symbolic nature of acknowledging wrongdoing and conveying the State’s assumption of responsibility and contrition for having caused victim harm.
Gabriela Martínez, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication
When papers talk and the making of “Keep your eyes on Guatemala”
This work focuses on the significant role of documentary in the construction of justice and memory; participatory and collaborative documentary making; journalistic techniques to allocate voice to the various stakeholders in the process of truth seeking, justice, and reconciliation; and the challenges to make papers be the central “character” of a story about people. This work is based on the making of “Keep your eyes on Guatemala,” a documentary I am producing in collaboration with the AHPN.
The finding of the Archivo Histórico de la Policia Nacional de Guatemala (AHPN) in 2005 brought to the forefront the “institutional voice” of one of the state’s war machines responsible for thousands of tortures and deaths of civilians. Since its discovery in a semi-abandoned building that is part of a larger police facility located in Guatemala City’s Zona 6, there is an ongoing effort for documenting the archives’ existence, disseminating its content, and building judicial cases and historical memory based on the information located in these archives. Documentary makers are taking a role in helping to accomplish those efforts. The members of the AHPN understand that visually documenting the archive and their work contributes greatly to the finding of truth and justice, and to the construction of a historical memory. In addition it provides a safety net around the archive and those who work there.
Daniel L. Miller, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications
The Quest for Memory, History, and the “Light” in Patricio Guzman’s Films, The Pinochet Case and Nostalgia for the Light
This paper speaks to the roles of memory, history, and documentary film in the interrogation of human conflict. In particular it analyzes the films of Patricio Guzman that document the violence of the 1973 Chilean coup, the "Dirty War' and the struggles for justice that followed, focusing on The Pinochet Case and especially Nostalgia for the Light. I argue that the films utilize art and journalism not only to document the Chilean events but to place them in the transnational story of human conduct, of good and evil, of human relations to life itself, and of a greater human “quest” toward the creative exploration and achievement of knowledge and truth and through them of justice—the “light” (in the title of his recent masterpiece Nostalgia for the Light), if you will.
Patricio Guzman is one of the master filmmakers and humanitarian voices of our times. He is a witness to conflict and violence and also an advocate/filmmaker representing the witnesses, and victims of conflict and violence. He is a son, poet, student and historian of Latin America and its peoples. His story is inextricably woven together with both the history of state and corporate perpetrated crimes against humanity and the struggles against them, and with the history of documentary cinema as both an artistic and a journalistic form of representation of social injustice and the struggles against it. He is among a group of documentary film luminaries-- including directors like Chris Marker and Miguel Litten--who have struggled historically to challenge the artistic forms of cinematic representation and apply their efforts to creatively interpreting the historical memories of conflict and violence, interpreting in service to truth and justice. He is a student and colleague of literary figures, including writers like Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Eduardo Galeano, and Isabel Allende who have struggled to do the same, in the most poetic, artistic, and transformative ways. He is at once deeply informed by the traditions of Latin America and by European art, cinema, and literature that is directed toward illuminating the state-sponsored injustices perpetrated against colonized and oppressed peoples historically, and, just as importantly the courageous struggles waged by those peoples against the violence. These struggles have historically included organizing, protesting, defying, remembering, witnessing, and testifying about and against these acts and against the perpetrators. Testimony-- and the humanity, dignity, courage, and importance of those presenting it-- is, in fact, at the heart of his work and his art. And, I will argue, and present evidence in this paper to the effect, that he is one of the greatest interviewers and presenters of witnesses and their testimony (along with Marcel Ophuls) in cinema history.
Perhaps most importantly, Patricio Guzman and his work were formed by his first hand experiences of the democratic Chile of his youth, and, of the 1973 Coup, Dirty War and dictatorship that destroyed it. The CIA-supported coup was led by military general Augusto Pinochet against the democratically elected social justice-based government of President Salvador Allende, causing Allende’s death, waging a campaign of terror against the Chilean people, and installing a repressive dictatorship over the next two decades. The Coup and the Dirty War that followed resulted in the exile, detention, torture, murder and disappearance of tens of thousands of Chilean citizens and the deformation, loss and disappearance of the culture, history and memory of the nation. It also led to Guzman’s incarceration, his exile to Europe, and the loss of his own relatives, friends, colleagues, and closest friend, colleague and “Battle of Chile” cinematographer Jorge Muller Silva.
In this paper, I will argue that these experiences--of literature, art, cinema and history, of the violence perpetrated against Latin American peoples and their struggle against it, and of the democratic Chile of his youth and the violent repressive Chile that followed--have led to a significant body of creative documentary cinema work that goes well beyond the facts, that constitutes a profound achievement in 1) the gathering and recording of a constellation of memories, voices, evidences, intellects and spirits to map and archive the history of violence --most brilliantly in the testimonies of the women who directly experienced and led the struggle against the violence and its perpetrators, and 2) the application of this constellation of memories, voices, evidences, intellects and spirits beyond the histories and truths of specific events to a greater quest for understanding, of human beings themselves and their quest across time and space toward a “light” that could illuminate the darkness of human violence, and the brightness and power of human struggle, courage, grace, dignity, sacrifice, and memory in our quest for truth, knowledge, and an end to the horrors that have historically plagued us.
The films of Patricio Guzman throughout the body of his work but especially in The Pinochet Case and his masterpiece Nostalgia for the Light are not just political retellings of the same story and facts of the 1973 CIA supported military coup in Chile and the Dirty War that followed. They are in fact a body of work that 1) artistically, humanely, intellectually and rigorously creates a record showing how the true history of injustice and horror can be told with dignity and conviction (be it the Jewish Genocide or the Chilean Coup and Dirty War that borrowed its tactics, or any of the rapes, murders, tortures, enslavements, and genocides that continue around the globe today) and 2) Quests --as in the examples of scientists, archeologists, prosecutors and mothers, grandmothers, and daughters of the disappeared-- for the deeper truths of humanity—the places of our crimes and heroics, of our memories and histories, of our searches for knowledge and justice, of our literary and artistic endeavors, and of our relationships to the greater web of life.
Vasuki Nesiah, NYU, The Gallatin School
UNCOMFORTABLE ALLIANCES: WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY IN SRI LANKA
From international legal scholarship on peace and security to the work of practitioners in the peace building field, there has been increased focus on gender in relation to conflict and post-conflict policy making over the last few decades. What I term ‘international conflict feminism’ (ICF) has striven to advance the international law and policy arena’s recognition of women’s experience of war and their potential contribution to peace building. In many ways this work culminated in the Security Council’s unanimous adoption of Resolution 1325 that ‘legislated’ this recognition into international law and policy. This paper will examine the ambitions, technologies, and implementation efforts of Resolution 1325. In doing so I identify two distinct yet related strands of ICF in Sri Lanka, namely, a liberal legalist strand on the one hand, and a pacifist strand on the other. This partly reflects two different orientations within the domain of transitional justice that carries a focus on law and politics on the one hand, and culture and reconciliation on the other. Thus while some ICF initiatives sought to regulate background legal rules governing women’s participation in the political sphere, other ICF initiatives focused on women’s community networks and grassroots reconciliation efforts. Both these strands of Resolution 1325 activated efforts are captured by what Janet Halley et. al. describe as ‘governance feminism’. Taking Resolution 1325 as symptomatic of contemporary international law and policy approaches to violence, the paper tracks how the parallel journeys of these different strands of ICF yield discursive capital for dominant ‘governance’ structures, ideologies and practices. In particular, the paper looks at how Resolution 1325 referenced agendas zone Sri Lanka as a failed state, and particularly as a state that has failed women. Operating in the nexus between the political economy of foreign aid and the moral economy of peace building, we see how this zoning redeems and normalizes globally hegemonic political choices in the name of women impacted by conflict. 1325 does not necessarily carry a torch for liberal state craft or free market economics. However, to the extent that these vehicles offer it wide scope for engagement with peace processes and nation-building efforts, ICF works with those ideologies and institutions and makes them its own. It is a dialectical process in which the international community’s intervention processes have spurred the momentum for ICF’s dominance.
Sherene H. Razack, University of Toronto
The Manufacture of Torture as Public Truth: The Case of Omar Khadr
On July 15, 2008, Canadians watched on the national news a few minutes of a 2003 (four day) interrogation of Canadian Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay by the Canadian Security and Intelligence Services (CSIS). The Supreme Court ordered the release of the videotape to Khadr’s Canadian legal team who hoped the tapes would spur outcry and increase calls for his repatriation. As day one of the interrogation begins, we see a young boy whose face lights up when the CSIS agent opens the interrogation with “I guess we’re the first Canadians you’ve seen in awhile.” Omar smiles and replies “I’ve been requesting the Canadian government for awhile.” By day two, Omar realises that CSIS is there not to help him, but to interrogate him. We see him shackled, crying out in Arabic for his mother, and sobbing uncontrollably while showing his wounds. The sixteen year old told his Canadian interrogators that he had been tortured and he asked them to protect him from the Americans.
Overall, Canadians expressed little outrage upon viewing the videotape. For a country that has for a very long time imagined that it is kinder, gentler, and more humanitarian than its Southern neighbour, this is puzzling. It is especially so when one considers that all Western countries have repatriated their citizens from Guantanamo, and that Khadr was a child when first detained. Khadr’s case cries out for an analysis of how -- by what discursive and representational means, including myth-making -- torture is made acceptable and normal in a democracy. How is the moral community that accepts torture created, maintained and resisted? Who are the subjects produced by torture? The question of how torture gains acceptance in liberal democratic states mandates a focus on the everyday. What citizens read in the morning newspaper or see on the national news at night, what parliamentarians discuss in sub-committees and debate in the House, are as important as what happens in the secret inner sanctums of power or the corridors of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Services (CSIS), or for that matter in an interrogation room at Guantanamo. Building on Lazreg’s idea that torture can serve as a source of social integration, I examine how stories of Omar Khadr circulate and are productive. How do stories travel from one context to another, that is, from science to law to popular culture and vice versa? How do these stories invite us into a racially divided world of civilized Europeans who must torture, and Muslim children who must be tortured? Attentive to both the content and mode of circulation, I argue that the narratives organize our failure to see Khadr as a child or adult who is a member of political community. Simultaneously, our failure to see Khadr organizes Canadian national identity as white. Cumulatively, torture narratives produce and sustain racial divisions, divisions that make torture, and social approval for torture, possible.
Galya Ruffer, Northwestern University
Victim Testimonies of Gender and Sexual Based Violence in International Criminal Courts: Moral Outrage, Epistemic Injustice and the Failures of Bearing Witness
Whereas prosecutions in international criminal courts have increasingly included charges of rape, the messy realities of justice reveal that many witness testimonies are never heard, convictions are limited, sentences are not served, reparations are not paid and women who bring cases to trial become social outcasts. This research examines the ways in which the norms of testimony and official narratives about rape in genocide and mass conflict mediate understandings of witness testimony ultimately affecting the ability of international courts to bear witness to the injustice of rape. The work examines the construction of official narrative as moral outrage regarding rape in international criminal trials versus the injustice of rape within the sociocultural and political context that shapes local perceptions of justice and the dynamics of change. This work argues that official narratives regarding rape in the ICC, ICTY and ICTR have resulted in epistemic injustices in which the testimony of women is often silenced, rejected and ignored through notions of the nature of generalized violence and political engagement. The work concludes by taking up the question of what are the duties to bear witness and how do failures in social and cultural capabilities contribute to the legal ambiguity regarding international understandings of gender-based violence.
Lynn Stephen, Departments of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies, University of Oregon
Testimony in Truth Commissions and Social Movements in Latin America
This essay explores the role of oral testimony in truth commissions and social movements in Latin America. A majority of indigenous, rural and urban inhabitants in Latin American countries receive news and culture through oral and visual media: radio, television, videos (commercial and self-produced), and sites like YouTube. Oral testimony is a long-standing form of political participation in indigenous and rural communities. Zapotec women denounce racism on a public television station they took over in Oaxaca; on audiotape, a Quechua woman recounts a massacre for the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Oral testimony allows people to bear witness, archive the memory of wrongs committed, and represent lived personal histories within complex identity categories of race, ethnicity, gender, and class. My examination here of the role of oral testimony in Latin American truth commissions and social movements relates to important larger questions about memory and the ways that history and truth are multiply understood and interpreted. These larger questions include: who defines legitimate speakers? Who defines history? Who controls and legitimates social memory and how? How do we understand and interpret “truth” whether in a legal context, the construction of local, regional or national histories, or identity and social movement construction?
Kimberly Theidon, Harvard University
Pasts Imperfect: working with former combatants in Colombia
A key component of peace processes and post-conflict reconstruction is the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of excombatants. According to the World Bank, in 2005 over one million former combatants were participating in DDR programs in some twenty countries around the world at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion. DDR is big business, and it is serious business: both livelihoods and lives are at stake.
Elsewhere I have argued that DDR programs imply multiple transitions: from the combatants who lay down their weapons, to the governments that seek an end to armed conflict, to the communities that receive — or reject — these demobilized fighters. These transitions inevitably imply a complex and dynamic tension between the demands of peace and the clamor for justice. And yet, traditional approaches to DDR have focused almost exclusively on military and security objectives, which in turn has resulted in these programs being developed in relative isolation from the growing field of transitional justice and its concerns with historical clarification, justice, reparations and reconciliation. Similarly, evaluations of DDR programs have tended to be technocratic exercises concerned with tallying the number of weapons collected and combatants enrolled. By reducing DDR to “dismantling the machinery of war,” these programs have failed to adequately consider how to move beyond demobilizing combatants to facilitating social reconstruction and coexistence. Drawing upon ongoing research with former combatants in Colombia, I extend these arguments by considering how the stories of rank and file ex-combatants might contribute to transitioning from violence and working toward sustainable peace. A key challenge following mass violence is what to do with the thousands of low-level perpetrators whose sheer numbers may overwhelm the legal system and whose return to civilian life may generate tremendous fear and resentment. In this exploratory chapter, I discuss how these former combatants conceptualize justice, forgiveness and reconciliation — concepts that are central concerns to the growing field of transitional justice.
From the post-WWII tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo to the proliferation of tribunals and truth commissions in the present, a genealogy of transitional justice illustrates how the field has both expanded and normalized. The burgeoning of transitional justice is often associated with the post-Cold War political climate in which a significant number of authoritarian and frequently violent nation-states began to transition towards peace and procedural democracy. The massive scale of damage characteristic of these post-conflict settings, the breakdown of legal and social institutions, and the destruction of social solidarity and civic trust indicated the need for innovations in the administration of justice. Frequently the traditional mechanisms of justice, designed to address occasional rather than chronic deviations from legal norms, failed to meet this challenge and, with equal frequency, the legal institutions of the countries themselves had played a role in promoting or sanctioning human rights violations. Thus the innovative judicial and legal measures known as transitional justice sought to realign societies with norms consistent with the rule of law, respect for human rights, and liberal democracy.
Kirsten Weld, Harvard University
The Emotional Labour of Postwar Reconstruction: Lessons from Guatemala
Scholars and practitioners in the fields of transitional justice and memory studies have arrived at a rough consensus: if such a thing as "reconciliation" can truly be generated in the wake of massive crimes against humanity, it is not produced simply through the signing of peace accords, the administering of reparations, or similar top-down approaches. Instead, social reconstruction -- a more useful concept than "reconciliation" -- amongst erstwhile antagonists is built delicately, laterally, through the development of common goals where possible, and above all with tremendous amounts of what I here term 'emotional labour.' Using the example of one memory-work microclimate -- the seven year-old human rights initiative to rescue the archives of Guatemala's now-defunct National Police -- this paper explores the process by which two mutually suspicious groups, one of memory activists and another of police agents, managed to achieve a functional coexistence and a new degree of understanding in the shared hope of saving the archives from oblivion. The intergenerational dynamics, ideological challenges, and affective work involved in building this unprecedented relationship between former adversaries in the Guatemalan context offer intriguing clues to how more democratic societies might rise from the ashes of violent conflict. They also serve as an object lesson in just how difficult it is, ultimately, to construct pockets of productive and reconstructive interchange within profoundly broken, divided postwar communities.
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