Symbolic closure through memory, reparation and revenge in post-conflict societies

Brandon Hamber & Richard Wilson, 2002

Countries going through democratic transition have to address how they will deal with the human rights crimes committed during the authoritarian era. In the context of amnesty for perpetrators, truth commissions have emerged as a standard institution to document the violent past. Increasingly, claims are made that truth commissions have beneficial psychological consequences; that is, that they facilitate 'catharsis', or 'heal the nation', or allow the nation to 'work through' a violent past. This article draws upon trauma counseling experience and anthropological fieldwork among survivors to challenge these claims in the context of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Key wordscommunity reconstruction / mental health / reconciliation / reconstruction

CountriesGlobal / South Africa