UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Witnessing the socially dead : testimony, violence, and Sarah van Voorthuysen, Hannah 2011

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
24-ubc_2011_fall_vanvoorthuysen_hannah.pdf [ 277.27kB ]
Metadata
JSON: 24-1.0072216.json
JSON-LD: 24-1.0072216-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 24-1.0072216-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 24-1.0072216-rdf.json
Turtle: 24-1.0072216-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 24-1.0072216-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 24-1.0072216-source.json
Full Text
24-1.0072216-fulltext.txt
Citation
24-1.0072216.ris

Full Text

	
  	
   	
   WITNESSING	
  THE	
  SOCIALLY	
  DEAD:	
  TESTIMONY,	
  VIOLENCE,	
  AND	
   SARAH	
   	
  by	
  	
  	
  Hannah	
  van	
  Voorthuysen	
  	
  	
  A	
  THESIS	
  SUBMITTED	
  IN	
  PARTIAL	
  FUFILLMENT	
  OF	
  THE	
  REQUIREMENTS	
  FOR	
  THE	
  DEGREE	
  OF	
  	
  MASTER	
  OF	
  ARTS	
  	
  in	
  	
  	
  The	
  Faculty	
  of	
  Graduate	
  Studies	
  (Political	
  Science)	
  	
  	
   	
  THE	
  UNIVERSITY	
  OF	
  BRITISH	
  COLUMBIA	
  (Vancouver)	
  	
  September	
  2011	
   	
   	
   	
  	
  	
   ii	
   Abstract	
  	
  	
  This	
   paper	
   critiques	
   the	
   assumption,	
   common	
   in	
   academic	
   studies	
   on	
   survivor	
  testimony,	
  that	
  trauma	
  or	
  pain	
  renders	
  the	
  witness	
  speechless.	
  Through	
  an	
  in-­‐depth	
  analysis	
   of	
   Sarah,	
   an	
   extremely	
   marginalised,	
   socially	
   dead,	
   survivor-­‐witness	
   of	
  multiple	
   violences	
   during	
   times	
   of	
  war	
   and	
   peace	
   in	
   northern	
   Uganda,	
   I	
   consider	
  how	
   such	
   witnesses	
   communicate	
   in	
   embodied	
   ways	
   to	
   outline	
   the	
   nature	
   of	
  violences	
  that	
  they	
  experience.	
  Given	
  that	
  witnessing	
  is	
  a	
  relational	
  practice,	
  I	
  then	
  explore	
  the	
  creative,	
  empathetic,	
  and	
  imaginative	
  ways	
  that	
  researchers	
  or	
  listeners	
  should	
  respond	
  to	
  such	
  testimonies	
  in	
  order	
  to	
  do	
  justice	
  to	
  the	
  testimony	
  told.	
  	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
  	
  	
   iii	
   	
   Table	
  of	
  Contents	
  	
  	
   Abstract....................................................................................................................................... ii	
   	
   Table	
  of	
  Contents....................................................................................................................iii	
   	
   Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................... iv	
   	
   Dedication.................................................................................................................................. v	
   	
   Introduction .............................................................................................................................. 1	
   	
   Northern	
  Uganda’s	
  Wars....................................................................................................... 3	
   	
   Sarah’s	
  Story.............................................................................................................................. 7	
   	
   The	
  Socially	
  Dead	
  Witness .................................................................................................17	
   	
   Embodied	
  Witness ................................................................................................................21	
   	
   Listening	
  to	
  Sarah..................................................................................................................25	
   	
   Conclusions..............................................................................................................................30	
   	
   Bibliography............................................................................................................................33	
  	
  	
  	
   	
   	
   	
  	
  	
   iv	
   	
   	
   Acknowledgements	
  	
   	
  The	
  successful	
  completion	
  of	
  this	
  thesis	
  owes	
  thanks	
  to	
  many	
  people	
  without	
  whom	
  this	
  project	
  could	
  not	
  have	
  been	
  accomplished.	
  First,	
  from	
  a	
  purely	
  pragmatic	
  point	
  of	
  view,	
  thanks	
  is	
  owed	
  to	
  the	
  New	
  Zealand	
  Ministry	
  of	
  Defence	
  who	
  awarded	
  me	
  the	
  Freyberg	
  Scholarship,	
  which	
  allowed	
  me	
  to	
  come	
  to	
  Canada	
  and	
  complete	
  a	
  challenging,	
  but	
  deeply	
  rewarding,	
  programme.	
  	
  	
  Next,	
  thanks	
  is	
  owed	
  to	
  my	
  amazing	
  supervisor,	
  Dr	
  Erin	
  Baines,	
  whose	
  support	
  and	
  guidance	
  was	
  of	
  considerable	
  aid.	
  Without	
  her	
  assistance,	
  insights	
  and	
  contributions	
  to	
  my	
  argument,	
  this	
  thesis	
  would	
  have	
  been	
  sorely	
  lacking.	
  Likewise,	
  Dr	
  Brian	
  Job	
  is	
  owed	
  significant	
  appreciation	
  for	
  his	
  mentorship	
  through	
  my	
  participation	
  within	
  the	
  UBC	
  political	
  science	
  department,	
  and	
  his	
  wry	
  questioning	
  during	
  the	
  defence	
  of	
  this	
  thesis	
  allowed	
  for	
  a	
  much	
  better	
  understanding	
  of	
  this	
  project	
  to	
  be	
  developed	
  in	
  its	
  final	
  form.	
  	
  	
  Third,	
  the	
  work	
  of	
  Liu	
  Institute	
  scholars,	
  Pilar	
  Riaño-­‐Alcalá	
  and	
  Juliane	
  Okot	
  Bitek,	
  was	
  deeply	
  inspirational	
  and	
  largely	
  informed	
  the	
  theoretical	
  basis	
  of	
  the	
  second	
  part	
  of	
  this	
  thesis.	
  I	
  am	
  very	
  grateful	
  to	
  them	
  for	
  allowing	
  me	
  to	
  use	
  their	
  unpublished	
  work	
  in	
  this	
  thesis.	
  	
  	
  Finally,	
  this	
  thesis	
  relies	
  on	
  the	
  testimony	
  of	
  one	
  woman,	
  Sarah.	
  Words	
  cannot	
  express	
  the	
  immense	
  gratitude	
  and	
  honour	
  that	
  it	
  has	
  been	
  for	
  me	
  to	
  be	
  allowed	
  work	
  on	
  your	
  testimony.	
  For	
  that,	
  I	
  thank	
  you.	
  	
  	
  	
  	
   	
  	
  	
   v	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   Dedication	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   This	
  thesis	
  is	
  dedicated	
  to	
  my	
  friend,	
  classmate,	
  and	
  victim	
  of	
  a	
  cowardly	
  attack	
  of	
  gender-­‐based	
  violence	
  during	
  the	
  course	
  of	
  our	
  programme,	
  Rumana	
  Monzur.	
  May	
  your	
  pain	
  not	
  amount	
  to	
  nothing	
  as	
  we	
  continually	
  strive	
  towards	
  a	
  world	
  free	
  of	
  violence	
  against	
  women	
  with	
  hope,	
  optimism	
  and	
  friendships.	
   	
  	
  	
   1	
   	
   Introduction	
  	
   	
  Sarah	
  is	
  a	
  young	
  Acholi	
  woman,	
  a	
  survivor-­‐witness	
  of	
  gross	
  violations	
  at	
  the	
  hands	
  of	
   the	
   Lord’s	
   Resistance	
   Army	
   (LRA)	
   and	
   the	
   victim	
   of	
   wider	
   structural	
   violence	
  affecting	
  northern	
  Uganda	
  more	
   generally.	
   Advancing	
   the	
   argument	
   of	
  Hirsch	
   and	
  Splitzer,	
   who	
   reject	
   claims	
   that	
   survivor-­‐witnesses	
   are	
   rendered	
   speechless	
   by	
  trauma,	
  this	
  thesis	
  will	
  unpack	
  Sarah’s	
  testimony	
  to	
  consider	
  how	
  the	
  socially	
  dead	
  witness.1	
   Navigating	
   through	
   uncertain	
   terrains	
   of	
   war	
   as	
   an	
   abused	
   daughter,	
  abductee,	
  rebel,	
  unwilling	
  bush-­‐wife,	
  scorned	
  returnee,	
  reluctant	
  mother,	
  prostitute,	
  and	
   survivor,	
   Sarah’s	
   multiple	
   experiences	
   of	
   war	
   take	
   place	
   amid	
   a	
   context	
   of	
  ongoing	
  poverty	
  and	
  social	
  marginalisation.	
  Testifying	
  about	
  her	
   life	
   through	
   local	
  forms	
   of	
   witnessing,	
   Sarah’s	
   tales	
   highlight	
   the	
   nature	
   of	
   violence	
   affecting	
   the	
  marginalised	
   poor	
   in	
   conflict	
   zones	
   and	
   demonstrate	
   how	
   various	
   overlapping	
  violences	
   combine	
   to	
   position	
   the	
   witness	
   into	
   a	
   physically	
   hyper-­‐visible,	
   but	
  socially	
   invisible,	
   site	
   of	
   liminality	
   and	
   social	
   death.	
   Sarah’s	
   testimonies	
   offer	
   a	
  remarkably	
   clear	
   account	
   of	
   abjection	
   and	
   demand	
   an	
   empathetic,	
   creative	
   and	
  imaginative	
  response	
  from	
  the	
  listener.	
  	
  	
  In	
  this	
  thesis	
  I	
  will	
  first	
  outline	
  the	
  situation	
  in	
  Northern	
  Uganda	
  in	
  order	
  to	
  situate	
  Sarah	
   within	
   the	
   decades-­‐old	
   violence	
   affecting	
   the	
   Acholi	
   population.	
   Next,	
   I	
  examine	
  Sarah’s	
  testimony	
  in	
  depth,	
  exploring	
  how	
  her	
  stories	
  reveal	
  the	
  nature	
  of	
  multiple	
  violences	
  combining	
  to	
  severely	
  curtail	
  the	
  options	
  available	
  to	
  the	
  socially	
  dead	
   in	
  war.	
  Following	
   this	
   I	
  outline	
   the	
  current	
  state	
  of	
  witnessing	
  discourses	
  on	
  the	
   socially	
   dead	
   to	
   argue	
   that	
   although	
   some	
   pain	
   is	
   not	
   easily	
   communicable,	
  survivor-­‐witnesses	
  are	
  able	
  and	
  willing	
  to	
  tell	
  their	
  stories	
  and	
  reveal	
  experiences	
  of	
  violence	
   and	
   injustice	
   that	
   would	
   be	
   impermissible	
   in	
   formal	
   prosecution-­‐based	
  justice	
   settings	
   like	
  a	
  war	
  crimes	
   trial.	
  Finally,	
   I	
   reflect	
  on	
  how	
  we,	
  as	
   researchers	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  1	
  Marianne	
  Hirsch	
  and	
  Leo	
  Spitzer,	
  (2009),	
  ‘The	
  Witness	
  in	
  the	
  Archive:	
  Holocaust	
  Studies/Memory	
  Studies’,	
  Memory	
  Studies,	
  Vol.	
  2,	
  No.	
  2	
   	
  	
  	
   2	
   and	
  listeners,	
  are	
  to	
  respond	
  to	
  a	
  testimony	
  like	
  Sarah’s.	
  I	
  argue	
  that	
  a	
  creative	
  and	
  empathetic	
   response	
   is	
   needed	
   in	
   order	
   to	
   begin	
   to	
   unpack	
   such	
   testimonies	
   and	
  begin	
  to	
  understand	
  the	
  drastically	
  oppressed	
  lives	
  of	
  the	
  socially	
  dead.	
  	
  	
  Witnessing	
  is	
  an	
  essential	
  component	
  within	
  transitional	
  justice	
  projects	
  as,	
  without	
  the	
   testimonies	
   of	
   survivor-­‐witnesses,	
   bringing	
   perpetrators	
   to	
   justice	
   is	
   an	
  impersonal	
  enterprise	
  that	
  lacks	
  the	
  humanised	
  and	
  individual	
  perspectives	
  offered	
  by	
  survivors.	
  Debates	
  on	
  witnessing	
  within	
  transitional	
  justice	
  are	
  heavily	
  contested	
  and	
  wide-­‐ranging.	
   Numerous	
   important	
   issues	
   have	
   received	
   considerable	
   debate	
  including:	
  the	
  role	
  of	
  the	
  witness;	
  the	
  problem	
  of	
  testifying	
  against	
  gender-­‐based	
  or	
  structural	
  violence;	
  the	
  inabilities	
  of	
  justice-­‐focused	
  institutions	
  to	
  rebuild	
  shattered	
  communities	
  or	
  discover	
  the	
  truth;	
  and	
  finally	
  the	
  purpose	
  of	
  testifying	
  in	
  general	
  –	
  whether	
  it	
  is	
  to	
  find	
  meaning,	
  bring	
  perpetrators	
  to	
  justice,	
  or	
  expose	
  the	
  truth.	
  I	
  will	
  deal	
  with	
   a	
   very	
   small	
   component	
   of	
   this	
   debate,	
   examining	
   an	
   area	
   that	
   has	
   not	
  received	
  great	
   academic	
   attention,	
  but	
  which	
  offers	
   important	
   implications	
  within	
  the	
  larger	
  field	
  of	
  transitional	
  justice.	
  	
  	
  My	
   thesis	
   focuses	
   on	
   the	
   socially	
   dead	
  witness,	
   arguing	
   that	
   survivors	
   of	
   atrocity,	
  relegated	
  to	
  a	
  position	
  of	
  extreme	
  marginalisation	
  by	
  their	
  experiences,	
  are	
  able	
  and	
   willing	
   to	
   testify,	
   in	
   a	
   claim	
   that	
   speaks	
   against	
   the	
   grandiose	
   assertions	
   of	
   those	
  who	
  argue	
  that	
  pain	
  or	
  trauma	
  reduces	
  a	
  witness	
  speechless	
  or	
   incomprehensible.	
  Instead,	
   this	
   thesis	
   argues	
   that	
   through	
   utilising	
   an	
   empathetic,	
   creative,	
   and	
  imaginative	
   approach,	
   the	
   pain	
   of	
   those	
   like	
   Sarah	
   can	
   be	
   understood,	
   and	
   her	
  insights	
  concerning	
  the	
  injustices	
  she	
  faces	
  are	
  made	
  visible.	
  	
  Such	
  insights	
  highlight	
  the	
   nature	
   of	
   structural	
   violence	
   combined	
  with	
   direct	
   violence	
   that	
   overlaps	
   and	
  combines	
   to	
   seriously	
   impede	
   the	
   ability	
   of	
   the	
   socially	
   dead	
   to	
   transition	
   into	
   a	
  more	
  just	
  and	
  fulfilling	
  existence.	
  By	
  listening	
  to	
  Sarah,	
  we	
  begin	
  to	
  address	
  some	
  of	
  these	
  issues	
  and	
  are	
  forced	
  to	
  rethink	
  both	
  the	
  way	
  that	
  survivors	
  witness,	
  and	
  the	
  types	
  of	
  injustices	
  that	
  demand	
  attention.	
  Thus,	
  although	
  a	
  small	
  component	
  within	
  a	
  larger	
  debate	
  on	
  witnessing	
  within	
  transitional	
   justice,	
  a	
  better	
  understanding	
  of	
   	
  	
  	
   3	
   the	
  socially	
  dead	
  witness	
  promises	
   to	
  provoke	
  transitional	
   justice	
  proponents	
   into	
  re-­‐examining	
  the	
  ways	
  that	
  survivors	
  witness	
  and	
  the	
  messages	
  they	
  convey	
  to	
  us.	
  	
   Northern	
  Uganda’s	
  Wars	
  	
  The	
   civil	
   war	
   in	
   Northern	
   Uganda,	
   in	
   its	
   current	
   form,	
   has	
   stretched	
   on	
   for	
   over	
  twenty	
   years,	
   ever	
   since	
   the	
   current	
   Ugandan	
   President,	
   Yoweri	
   Museveni,	
   first	
  seized	
  power	
  from	
  an	
  Acholi	
  dominated	
  government	
  in	
  1986.2	
  The	
  LRA,	
  under	
  the	
  leadership	
  of	
   Joseph	
  Kony,	
   is	
  the	
  latest	
  armed	
  anti-­‐government	
  group	
  operating	
  in	
  Acholi	
   sub-­‐region	
   during	
   this	
   time.	
   It	
   resembles	
   its	
   predecessor,	
   Alice	
   Lakwena’s	
  Holy	
  Spirit	
  Movement,	
   in	
  that	
   it	
  evokes	
  spiritual	
  as	
  well	
  as	
  political	
   ideologies	
  and	
  motivations	
  citing	
  a	
  politically	
  marginalised	
  and	
  morally	
   impure	
  region	
   in	
  need	
  of	
  salvation.	
   The	
   strict	
   pseudo	
   Christian	
   spiritual	
   order	
   within	
   the	
   LRA	
   serves	
   as	
   a	
  means	
   to	
  maintain	
   group	
   control,	
   reinforces	
   a	
   new	
   social	
   order	
   for	
   overwhelmed	
  abductees,	
   and	
   legitimises	
   violence	
   done	
   unto	
   civilians.3	
   As	
   Kristof	
   Titeca	
   notes,	
  “absolute	
  adherence	
  to	
  the	
  many,	
  and	
  frequently	
  changing,	
  spiritual	
  rules	
  is	
  in	
  this	
  case	
   the	
   only	
  way	
   to	
   survive	
   life	
   in	
   the	
   bush.”4	
   Under	
   Kony’s	
   leadership	
   the	
   LRA	
  employs	
   small	
   bands	
   of	
   rebels	
   to	
  maximum	
   effect	
   by	
   engaging	
   in	
   a	
  war	
   of	
   terror	
  against	
   the	
   civilian	
   population	
   and	
   spreading	
   fear	
   through	
   tactics	
   like	
   forced	
  abduction	
  of	
  children,	
  amputations	
  of	
  limbs,	
  massacres,	
  murders,	
  looting,	
  rapes,	
  and	
  the	
  cutting	
  off	
  of	
  noses,	
  lips	
  and	
  ears.5	
  	
  	
  The	
  government	
  troops	
  also	
  engage	
  in	
  brutal	
  tactics	
  against	
  civilians	
  including	
  rape,	
  torture	
   and	
   forced	
   displacement,	
   all	
   of	
   which	
   has	
   resulted	
   in	
   the	
   widespread	
  dislocation	
   of	
   the	
   population	
   into	
   poorly	
   protected	
   Internally	
   Displaced	
   Persons	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  2	
  Adam	
  Branch,	
  (2007),	
  ‘Uganda’s	
  Civil	
  War	
  and	
  the	
  Politics	
  of	
  Intervention’,	
  Ethics	
  and	
   International	
  Affairs,	
  Vol.	
  21,	
  No.	
  2,	
  p.	
  180	
  3	
  Kristof	
  Titeca,	
  (2010),	
  ‘The	
  Spiritual	
  Order	
  of	
  the	
  LRA’	
  in	
  Tim	
  Allen	
  and	
  Koen	
  Vlassenroot	
  (eds.)	
  The	
  Lord’s	
  Resistance	
  Army:	
  Myth	
  and	
  Reality,	
  London:	
  Zed	
  Books,	
  p.	
  62	
  4	
  ibid.	
  	
  5	
  Adam	
  Branch,	
  (2010),	
  ‘Exploring	
  the	
  roots	
  of	
  LRA	
  violence:	
  political	
  crisis	
  and	
  ethnic	
  politics	
  in	
  Acholiland’,	
  in	
  Tim	
  Allen	
  and	
  Koen	
  Vlassenroot	
  (eds.),	
  The	
  Lord’s	
  Resistance	
  Army:	
   Myth	
  and	
  Reality,	
  London:	
  Zed	
  Books,	
  pp.	
  10-­‐11	
   	
  	
  	
   4	
   (IDP)	
   camps.	
   Chris	
   Dolan	
   explains	
   how	
   the	
   population	
   in	
   northern	
   Uganda	
  consequently	
   live	
   in	
   a	
   state	
   of	
   “social	
   torture”:	
   a	
   low	
   intensity,	
  wide	
   impact,	
   time	
  indifferent	
   and	
   geographically	
   extensive	
   phenomena	
   where	
   multiple	
   actors	
   are	
  complicit	
  in	
  a	
  self-­‐perpetrating	
  system	
  of	
  torture	
  against	
  society	
  as	
  a	
  whole.6	
  Unlike	
  individual	
   torture,	
   “you	
  are	
  not	
  whisked	
  away	
   from	
  your	
  daily	
   life	
   to	
  be	
   tortured;	
  daily	
   life	
   is	
   your	
   torture.”7	
   Sverker	
   Finnström	
   meanwhile	
   describes	
   the	
   daily	
  environment	
  of	
   the	
  Acholi	
   to	
  be	
  one	
  of	
  piny	
  marac	
   (bad	
  surroundings)	
  where	
  “the	
  whole	
  thing	
  is	
  out	
  of	
  hand,	
  the	
  entire	
  apparatus	
  of	
  the	
  culture	
  cannot	
  cope	
  with	
  the	
  menace	
  anymore.”8	
  This	
   is	
  a	
  social	
  state	
  where	
  “sickness	
   is	
  abundant,	
  children	
  are	
  malnourished,	
   cattle	
   are	
   gone,	
   crops	
   fail,	
   bad	
   spirits	
   roam	
   the	
   surroundings,	
   and	
  people	
  are	
  killed	
  or	
  die	
  at	
  an	
  early	
  age	
  and	
  in	
  large	
  numbers.”9	
  	
  	
  Although	
   a	
   cessation	
  of	
   hostilities,	
  mediated	
  by	
   South	
   Sudan,	
  was	
   signed	
   in	
  2006,	
  peace	
   remains	
   shaky	
   and	
   uncertain,	
   partly	
   due	
   to	
   the	
   internationalisation	
   of	
   this	
  war.	
   In	
   2005	
   Kony	
   and	
   three	
   other	
   top	
   commanders	
   were	
   indicted	
   by	
   the	
  International	
  Criminal	
  Court	
   (ICC)	
   for	
   their	
   crimes	
  against	
   civilians,	
  but	
   remain	
  at	
  large	
   at	
   camps	
   in	
   Sudan	
   or	
   the	
   Democratic	
   Republic	
   of	
   the	
   Congo.	
   Many	
  commentators	
   believe	
   the	
   ICC	
   involvement	
   is	
   an	
   impediment	
   to	
   peace	
   as	
   it	
  undermines	
   a	
   2000	
   government	
   initiative	
   that	
   gave	
   a	
   blanket	
   amnesty	
   to	
   LRA	
  defectors,	
   takes	
   justice	
   solutions	
   away	
   from	
   the	
   local	
   level,	
   internationalises	
   an	
  already	
  complex	
  and	
  multi-­‐actor	
  conflict,	
  and	
  finally,	
  ensures	
  that	
  a	
  military	
  solution	
  to	
  the	
  conflict	
  is	
  given	
  priority.10	
  Moreover,	
  the	
  LRA	
  was	
  included	
  on	
  the	
  post-­‐9/11	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  6	
  Chris	
  Dolan,	
  (2009),	
  Social	
  Torture:	
  The	
  Case	
  of	
  Northern	
  Uganda	
  1986-­2006,	
  New	
  York:	
  Berghahn	
  Books,	
  p.12	
  7	
  ibid.,	
  p.	
  14	
  	
  8	
  Okot	
  p’Bitek	
  quoted	
  in	
  Sverker	
  Finnström,	
  (2008),	
  Living	
  with	
  Bad	
  Surroundings:	
  War,	
   History	
  and	
  Everyday	
  Moments	
  in	
  Northern	
  Uganda,	
  Durham:	
  Duke	
  University	
  Press,	
  p.	
  14	
  9	
  Sverker	
  Finnström,	
  (2008),	
  Living	
  with	
  Bad	
  Surroundings:	
  War,	
  History	
  and	
  Everyday	
   Moments	
  in	
  Northern	
  Uganda,	
  Durham:	
  Duke	
  University	
  Press,	
  p.	
  14	
  10	
  Adam	
  Branch,	
  (2007),	
  ‘Uganda’s	
  Civil	
  War	
  and	
  the	
  Politics	
  of	
  Intervention’,	
  Ethics	
  and	
   International	
  Affairs,	
  Vol.	
  21,	
  No.	
  2,	
  p.	
  184	
   	
  	
  	
   5	
   global	
   terrorist	
   group	
   list	
   and	
   the	
  Museveni	
   government	
   employs	
   the	
   rhetoric	
   of	
  terrorism	
  to	
  great	
  effect	
  in	
  getting	
  international	
  support	
  of	
  its	
  cause.11	
  	
  	
  These	
   political	
   conditions	
   create	
   a	
   toxic	
   environment	
   for	
   returnees	
   who,	
   in	
   the	
  absence	
   of	
  widespread	
   local	
   justice	
   programmes,	
   face	
   intense	
   societal	
   stigma	
   and	
  are	
   suspected	
   of	
   participation	
   in	
   massacres.	
   Such	
   suspicions	
   are	
   fuelled	
   by	
   a	
  particularly	
   brutal	
   LRA	
   practice	
   of	
   coercing	
   children	
   into	
   committing	
   violence	
  against	
   families,	
   neighbours	
   or	
   communities	
   during	
   the	
   abduction	
   process,	
  communities	
   into	
  which	
   they	
  must	
   now	
   return.12	
  Women	
   returning	
  with	
   children	
  born	
  from	
  forced	
  marriages	
  in	
  the	
  LRA	
  often	
  face	
  particular	
  difficulties	
  when	
  these	
  children	
  are	
  rejected	
  and	
  consequently	
  these	
  women	
  are	
  barred	
  from	
  their	
  former	
  social	
  networks	
  and	
  resigned	
  to	
  poverty.13	
  	
  	
  Within	
  this	
  space	
  of	
  social	
  torture	
  and	
  stigma,	
  further	
  cosmological	
  concerns	
  affect	
  the	
   ability	
   of	
   returned	
   people	
   to	
   reintegrate	
   into	
   communities	
   devastated	
   by	
  violence.	
   As	
   Erin	
   Baines	
   explains,	
   in	
   times	
   of	
   moral	
   crisis	
   people	
   rely	
   on	
   local	
  cosmologies	
  to	
  interpret	
  unfathomable	
  events,	
  and	
  “understanding	
  this	
  helps	
  make	
  sense	
   of	
   the	
   way	
   ordinary	
   Acholi	
   seek	
   to	
   repair	
   broken	
   relationships	
   with	
   one	
  another	
  and	
  the	
  spirit	
  world.”14	
  Spiritual	
  manipulation	
  of	
  broken	
  relations	
  includes	
  the	
  prevalence	
  of	
   jogi,	
  ancestral	
  spirits	
  who	
  cause	
  misfortunes,	
   including	
  madness,	
  injury	
  or	
  death,	
  should	
  social	
  transgressions	
  occur.15	
  In	
  the	
  IDP	
  camps,	
  widespread	
  incidents	
  of	
  kiir	
  (curses	
  or	
  abominations)	
  occur	
  and	
  are	
  linked	
  “to	
  the	
  pervasiveness	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  11	
  Finnström,	
  Living	
  with	
  Bad	
  Surroundings,	
  p.	
  9	
  12Such	
  a	
  state	
  is	
  reminiscent	
  of	
  Kimberly	
  Theidon’s	
  description	
  of	
  Peru’s	
  ‘intimate	
  enemies’	
  problem,	
  where	
  in	
  the	
  lack	
  of	
  formal	
  justice	
  mechanisms,	
  victims	
  and	
  perpetrators	
  live	
  side-­‐by-­‐side	
  in	
  an	
  often	
  uneasy	
  relationship.	
  See:	
  Kimberly	
  Theidon,	
  (2006),	
  ‘Justice	
  in	
  Transition:	
  The	
  Micro-­‐politics	
  of	
  Reconciliation	
  in	
  Postwar	
  Peru’,	
  Journal	
  of	
  Conflict	
   Resolution,	
  Vol.	
  50,	
  No.	
  3	
  13	
  Erin	
  Baines.	
  ‘The	
  Saved:	
  Responsibility	
  and	
  Militarized	
  Masculinity	
  in	
  the	
  Lord’s	
  Resistance	
  Army’.	
  forthcoming	
  14	
  Erin	
  Baines,	
  (2010),	
  ‘Spirits	
  and	
  Social	
  Reconstruction	
  After	
  Mass	
  Violence:	
  Rethinking	
  Transitional	
  Justice”,	
  in	
  African	
  Affairs,	
  Vol.	
  109,	
  Iss.	
  436,	
  p.	
  412	
  15	
  Ibid.,	
  p.	
  419	
   	
  	
  	
   6	
   of	
  war-­‐related	
  suffering	
  such	
  as	
  massacres	
  and	
  illness.”16	
  Finally,	
  there	
  is	
  a	
  problem	
  of	
  cen	
  contaminations,	
  which	
  come	
  about	
  when	
  the	
  vengeful	
  spirit	
  of	
  someone	
  killed	
  violently	
   returns	
   to	
   possess	
   those	
   responsible.	
   Formerly	
   abducted	
   people	
   are	
  particularly	
  vulnerable	
  to	
  cen	
  with	
  many	
  returnees	
  complaining	
  that	
  “the	
  spirits	
  of	
  those	
  they	
  killed	
  […]	
  were	
  choking	
  them	
  at	
  night,	
   forcing	
  them	
  to	
  run	
  mad	
  and,	
  at	
  times,	
   to	
   try	
  and	
  kill	
   others	
  or	
   themselves.”17	
  Fear	
  of	
  cen	
   contributes	
   to	
   the	
   social	
  marginalisation	
   and	
   stigma	
   towards	
   formerly	
   abducted	
   children,	
   now	
   returned	
   as	
  adults	
  into	
  devastated	
  communities.	
  	
  	
  Sarah	
   is	
   victim	
   to	
   a	
   multitude	
   of	
   overlapping	
   and	
   unacknowledged	
   violences:	
  gender-­‐based	
  violences,	
  the	
  violence	
  of	
  poverty,	
  the	
  violence	
  of	
  marginalisation,	
  the	
  violent	
   lack	
  of	
  opportunities,	
  and	
  direct	
  physical	
  violence	
  at	
   the	
  hands	
  of	
   the	
  LRA.	
  The	
  violences	
  are	
  relational	
  and	
  directly	
  linked	
  to	
  her	
  marginalised	
  position	
  within	
  the	
  community	
  and	
  her	
  experiences	
  of	
  stigma	
  from	
  other	
  victims	
  of	
  violence.	
  They	
  combine	
   to	
   position	
   her	
   as	
   a	
   socially	
   dead	
   witness,	
   a	
   person	
   located	
   on	
   the	
  peripheries	
  of	
  society	
  and	
  unable	
  to	
  fulfil	
  normal	
  social	
  life	
  projects.	
  Hendrik	
  Vigh	
  in	
  his	
   exploration	
   of	
   youth	
   in	
   war-­‐affected	
   Guinea-­‐Bissau	
   explains	
   social	
   death	
   as	
   a	
  situation	
  where	
  youth	
  “are	
  unable	
  to	
  attain	
  the	
  momentum	
  and	
  progress	
  of	
  life	
  that	
  is	
  socially	
  and	
  culturally	
  desired	
  and	
  expected,	
  resulting	
  in	
  (temporary)	
  social	
  death	
  –	
   in	
   a	
   social	
  moratorium.”18	
   Sarah’s	
   social	
   death	
   is	
   not	
   temporary	
   but	
   is	
   rather	
   a	
  feature	
  of	
  her	
   life	
   from	
  childhood	
  until	
   the	
  present.	
  The	
  following	
  section	
  explores	
  Sarah’s	
  testimony,	
  illustrating	
  how	
  her	
  social	
  death	
  is	
  made	
  manifest,	
  and	
  revealing	
  the	
   important	
   insights	
   on	
   violence	
   and	
   survival	
   from	
   someone	
   inhabiting	
   the	
  margins	
  of	
  society.	
  	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  16	
  ibid.	
  	
  17	
  ibibd.	
  P.	
  422	
  18	
  Henrik	
  E.	
  Vigh,	
  (2006),	
  ‘Social	
  Death	
  and	
  Violent	
  Life	
  Chances’,	
  in	
  Catrine	
  Christiansen,	
  Mats	
  Utas,	
  Henrik	
  Vigh	
  (eds.),	
  Navigating	
  Youth,	
  Generating	
  Adulthood:	
  Social	
  Becoming	
  in	
   an	
  African	
  Context,	
  Uppsala:	
  Nordiska	
  Afrikainstitutet,	
  p.	
  46	
   	
  	
  	
   7	
   	
   Sarah’s	
  Story	
  	
  In	
   2009,	
   Erin	
   Baines,	
   a	
   Canadian	
   based	
   researcher,	
   began	
   a	
   series	
   of	
   storytelling	
  sessions	
  with	
   formerly	
   abducted	
  women	
  who	
   had	
   spent	
   a	
   decade	
   or	
  more	
   in	
   the	
  LRA	
  in	
  order	
  to	
  document	
  their	
  experiences	
  of	
  life	
  in	
  the	
  LRA	
  and	
  since	
  their	
  return.	
  This	
   project	
   was	
   done	
   with	
   the	
   assistance	
   and	
   input	
   of	
   four	
   locally	
   based	
   Acholi	
  researchers,	
   two	
   of	
   whom	
   who	
   had	
   themselves	
   been	
   abducted	
   and	
   forced	
   into	
  marriages	
  with	
  senior	
  LRA	
  commanders.	
  These	
  storytelling	
  sessions	
  spanned	
  more	
  than	
  two	
  years	
  and	
  involved	
  over	
  fifty	
  women,	
  although	
  each	
  session	
  was	
  limited	
  to	
  approximately	
   eight	
   women.	
   As	
   part	
   of	
   this	
   project,	
   Baines	
   and	
   her	
   research	
  partners	
  also	
  documented	
  the	
  individual	
  life	
  stories	
  of	
  twenty-­‐seven	
  women	
  during	
  storytelling	
  sessions.	
  Sarah	
  was	
  the	
  final	
  addition	
  to	
  this	
  project,	
  joining	
  the	
  group	
  of	
  storytellers	
  after	
  a	
  year.	
  The	
  original	
  testimonies	
  were	
  recorded	
  orally	
   in	
  Luo,	
  and	
  then	
   transcribed,	
   translated	
   into	
  English,	
  and	
  edited.	
  As	
  Baines’	
   research	
  assistant	
  and	
   later	
   her	
   supervised	
  Masters	
   student,	
   I	
  was	
   given	
   access	
   to	
   Sarah’s	
   story	
   and	
  began	
   to	
   interpret	
   it.	
   I	
   have	
   never	
   met	
   Sarah,	
   who	
   is	
   based	
   in	
   Gulu,	
   the	
  administrative	
   capital	
   of	
   northern	
   Uganda,	
   but	
   Sarah	
   is	
   aware	
   that	
   I	
   am	
  working	
  with	
   her	
   testimony.	
   She	
   chose	
   her	
   own	
   pseudonym	
   for	
   this	
   project,	
   picking	
   the	
  name	
  of	
  her	
  grandmother,	
  a	
  woman	
  who	
  does	
  not	
  feature	
  in	
  Sarah’s	
  testimony,	
  but	
  whom	
  is	
  very	
  dear	
  to	
  her.	
  	
  	
  Sarah’s	
  testimony	
  is	
  one	
  replete	
  with	
  violence,	
  ambivalence,	
  and	
  lost	
  hope.	
  A	
  thrice-­‐abducted	
  woman	
  with	
  children	
  born	
   from	
  war	
  and	
   living	
   in	
  poverty,	
  Sarah’s	
  story	
  reveals	
   the	
  ways	
   in	
  which	
  multiple	
   violences	
   and	
   injustices	
   combine	
   to	
   affect	
   the	
  world’s	
  marginalised.	
   She	
   begins	
   her	
   testimony	
  with	
   the	
   sobering	
   reminder	
   to	
   us	
  that	
   the	
   violence	
   she	
   suffers	
  has	
  been	
   a	
  permanent	
   feature	
  of	
   her	
   existence:	
   “You	
  should	
  know	
  that	
  my	
  entire	
  life	
  –	
  from	
  childhood	
  up	
  to	
  this	
  very	
  day	
  –	
  has	
  revolved	
  around	
  misfortunes.	
  I	
  have	
  never	
  experienced	
  what	
  is	
  called	
  ‘peace’	
  …	
  All	
  I	
  know	
  is	
  living	
  in	
  anger	
  and	
  sadness.”	
  Sarah’s	
   life	
   is	
  one	
  where	
  this	
  already	
  acute	
  structural	
   	
  	
  	
   8	
   violence	
  overlaps	
  with	
  gender-­‐based	
  insecurities	
  and	
  political	
  violence	
  that	
  combine	
  to	
   render	
   her	
   socially	
   dead.	
   It	
   is	
   an	
   existence	
   immersed	
   in	
   what	
   Nancy	
   Scheper-­‐Hughes,	
  discussing	
   the	
  Alto	
   region	
  of	
  Brazil,	
   calls	
   the	
   ‘violence	
  of	
  everyday	
   life’	
  or	
  ‘terror	
   as	
   usual’	
  where	
   “mundane	
   rituals	
   routines	
   of	
   humiliation	
   and	
   violence	
   […]	
  assault	
   the	
   bodies	
   and	
   minds	
   of	
   the	
  moradores	
   [residents]	
   as	
   they	
   go	
   about	
   the	
  complicated	
  business	
  of	
  trying	
  to	
  survive.”19	
  	
  	
  Her	
  troubles	
  begin	
  with	
  her	
  father,	
  “an	
  ill-­‐tempered,	
  cruel	
  and	
  violent	
  man”	
  whose	
  abrasive	
   manner	
   excludes	
   him,	
   and	
   consequently	
   his	
   family,	
   from	
   normal	
   social	
  networks:	
   “He	
   did	
   not	
   have	
   a	
   single	
   friend.”	
   Extremely	
   abusive,	
   he	
   tortured	
   and	
  starved	
   his	
   children,	
   placing	
   hot	
   pieces	
   of	
   iron	
   sheeting	
   on	
   them,	
   standing	
   on	
   the	
  iron	
   sheeting,	
   and	
   beating	
   them	
   with	
   opobo	
   canes.	
   Because	
   of	
   his	
   aggressive	
  reputation,	
  the	
  community	
  did	
  not	
  challenge	
  him:	
  “all	
  they	
  [their	
  neighbours]	
  could	
  do	
  was	
  say	
   ‘if	
  he	
  wants	
  to	
  kill	
  his	
  own	
  children,	
   let	
  him	
  do	
  it’.”	
  When	
  Sarah	
  is	
  five,	
  her	
   father	
   marries	
   a	
   woman	
   who	
   resents	
   Sarah	
   and	
   her	
   two	
   brothers	
   and	
   stops	
  feeding	
   them,	
   leaving	
   them	
   to	
   scavenge	
   for	
   plants	
   to	
   sustain	
   themselves	
   –	
   an	
  insufficient	
  diet	
  that	
  leaves	
  them	
  starved.	
  Eventually,	
  resigned	
  to	
  an	
  otherwise	
  long	
  death	
   by	
   attrition,	
   the	
   children	
   decide	
   to	
   expedite	
   the	
   process	
   and	
   confront	
   their	
  father	
   at	
   the	
   next	
   available	
   opportunity,	
   risking	
   an	
   almost	
   certain	
   death	
   through	
  their	
  obstinacy.	
  	
  	
  Using	
  their	
  preference	
  of	
  death	
  over	
  a	
  life	
  of	
  suffering	
  as	
  a	
  platform	
  upon	
  which	
  to	
  jolt	
  their	
  father’s	
  attention	
  to	
  their	
  pain,	
  the	
  children	
  demand	
  that	
  their	
  parents	
  to	
  kill	
   them	
   rather	
   than	
   allow	
   them	
   to	
   face	
   the	
   continuing	
   indignity	
   of	
   their	
   lives.	
  Leading	
  the	
  confrontation,	
  Sarah	
  says:	
  	
   	
  Today	
  I	
  want	
  to	
  speak	
  out	
  the	
  truth.	
  …	
  my	
  brothers	
  and	
  I	
  have	
  agreed	
  to	
  let	
  today	
  be	
  our	
   last	
   to	
   live	
  on	
  earth.	
  Kill	
   all	
  of	
  us	
   so	
   that	
  we	
  can	
   find	
  peace	
  but	
  before	
  you	
  do	
  that,	
  I	
  will	
  tell	
  you	
  the	
  truth.	
  Everyday	
  we	
  keep	
  quiet	
  but	
  today	
  I	
  will	
  tell	
  you	
  about	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  19	
  Nancy	
  Scheper-­‐Hughes,	
  (1993),	
  Death	
  Without	
  Weeping:	
  The	
  Violence	
  of	
  Everyday	
  Life	
  in	
   Brazil,	
  Berkeley:	
  University	
  of	
  California	
  Press,	
  pp.	
  225-­‐226	
   	
  	
  	
   9	
   our	
  suffering	
  to	
  your	
  face	
  –	
  it	
   is	
  up	
  to	
  you	
  to	
  kill	
  me	
  if	
  you	
  want.	
  I	
  am	
  tired.	
  I	
  have	
  been	
  suffering	
  from	
  the	
  time	
  I	
  was	
  very	
  young.	
  	
  Her	
   accusations	
   shock	
   her	
   father	
   into	
   recognising	
   his	
   daughters	
   suffering,	
   and	
   he	
  listens	
   carefully	
   to	
   her	
   long	
   list	
   of	
   grievances	
   against	
   him	
   and	
   her	
   stepmother.	
  Blaming	
  the	
  stepmother	
  for	
  the	
  children’s	
  suffering,	
  he	
  beats	
  her	
  until	
  she	
  flees	
  and	
  the	
  children	
  are	
  left	
  with	
  a	
  temporarily	
  chastened	
  father,	
  who	
  cares	
  for	
  them	
  until,	
  upon	
  discovering	
  he	
  is	
  HIV/AIDS	
  positive,	
  begins	
  to	
  ‘misbehave’	
  again.	
  He	
  abandons	
  the	
   children	
  who	
   then	
   contract	
   guinea	
  worms,	
  which	
   begins,	
   for	
   Sarah,	
   “the	
  most	
  painful	
  moment	
  of	
  my	
  life”.	
  	
  	
  The	
  worms	
  leave	
  deep	
  psychological	
  and	
  physical	
  scars	
  on	
  her.	
  Guinea	
  worms	
  are	
  a	
  debilitating	
   parasitic	
   infection	
   that	
   can	
   be	
   caught	
   through	
   drinking	
   contaminated	
  water.20	
  The	
  worms,	
  once	
  fully	
  grown,	
  burn	
  and	
  burrow	
  their	
  way	
  out	
  through	
  the	
  flesh,	
   leaving	
  the	
  host	
   immobile.	
  She	
  says	
  she	
  suffers	
  the	
  disease	
  for	
  three	
  years,	
  a	
  presumably	
   exaggerated	
   length	
   of	
   time	
   that	
   nonetheless	
   demonstrates	
   the	
  extremity	
  of	
  her	
  pain	
  during	
  this	
  period.	
  As	
  psychoanalyst	
  Dori	
  Laub	
  has	
  explained	
  in	
  his	
  writings	
  on	
  the	
  Holocaust,	
  what	
  is	
  important	
  in	
  understanding	
  the	
  testimony	
  of	
  survivor-­‐witnesses	
  is	
  not	
  their	
  ability	
  to	
  factually	
  recount	
  their	
  experiences,	
  but	
  rather	
  the	
  meaning	
  with	
  which	
  they	
  inscribe	
  their	
  experience.	
  He	
  gives	
  the	
  example	
  of	
   a	
   woman	
   who	
   incorrectly	
   remembers	
   four	
   chimneys	
   being	
   destroyed	
   in	
  Auschwitz	
  when	
  in	
  reality	
  only	
  one	
  was	
  blown	
  up.	
  Laub	
  explains	
  that	
  “The	
  woman	
  was	
  testifying	
  […]	
  not	
  to	
  the	
  number	
  of	
  chimneys	
  blown	
  up,	
  but	
  to	
  something	
  else,	
  more	
   radical,	
   more	
   crucial:	
   the	
   reality	
   of	
   an	
   unimaginable	
   occurrence.	
   […]	
   The	
  woman	
  testified	
  to	
  an	
  event	
  that	
  broke	
  all	
  the	
  compelling	
  frame	
  of	
  Auschwitz	
  […]”.21	
  Likewise,	
   Sarah’s	
   emphasis	
   on	
   the	
   lengthiness	
   of	
   this	
   period	
   underlines	
   the	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  20	
  Guinea	
  worms	
  were	
  a	
  major	
  health	
  issue	
  during	
  Sarah’s	
  childhood,	
  although	
  they	
  have	
  now	
  been	
  eradicated	
  in	
  Uganda.	
  See	
  John	
  B.	
  Rwakimari,	
  Donald	
  R.	
  Hopkins,	
  and	
  Ernesto	
  Ruiz-­‐Tiben,	
  (2006),	
  ‘Uganda’s	
  Successful	
  Guinea	
  Worms	
  Eradication	
  Program’,	
  The	
   American	
  Journal	
  of	
  Tropical	
  Medicine	
  and	
  Hygiene,	
  Vol.	
  75,	
  No.	
  1	
  	
  21	
  Dori	
  Laub	
  and	
  Shoshana	
  Felman,	
  (1992),	
  Testimony:	
  Crises	
  of	
  Witnessing	
  in	
  Literature,	
   Psychoanalysis,	
  and	
  History,	
  New	
  York:	
  Routledge,	
  p.	
  60	
   	
  	
  	
   10	
   extraordinary	
  physical	
  suffering	
  that	
  destroyed	
  any	
  sense	
  of	
  time,	
  and	
  provides	
  us	
  with	
   a	
   sense	
   of	
   her	
   marginalisation	
   within	
   a	
   community	
   that	
   was,	
   at	
   best,	
  ambivalent	
  to	
  the	
  children’s	
  pain.	
  	
  Sarah’s	
  assertion	
  that	
  guinea	
  worms	
  represents	
  the	
  most	
  painful	
  time	
  in	
  her	
  life	
   is	
  ever	
   the	
   more	
   remarkable	
   considering	
   her	
   subsequent	
   experiences	
   of	
   intense	
  physical	
  and	
  sexual	
  violence.	
  She	
  is	
  propelled	
  her	
  into	
  a	
  sphere	
  of	
  liminality	
  due	
  to	
  the	
  disabilities	
   caused	
  by	
   the	
   slow	
  and	
  painful	
   progression	
  of	
   the	
  worms	
   through	
  her	
   body,	
   leaving	
   her	
   situated	
   in	
   a	
   space	
   of	
   ambiguity	
   and	
  marginality.	
   Unable	
   to	
  walk,	
  and	
  lacking	
  any	
  social	
  networks	
  to	
  help	
  them,	
  the	
  children	
  are	
  forced	
  to	
  take	
  turns	
  dragging	
  themselves	
  to	
  the	
  well	
  and	
  eating	
  wild	
  plants.	
  They	
  face	
  the	
  scorn	
  of	
  their	
   fellow	
   villagers	
   who	
   cruelly	
   taunt	
   them,	
   saying	
   “are	
   you	
   still	
   alive?	
   …	
   We	
  thought	
  you	
  were	
  dead	
  by	
  now,	
  are	
  you	
  still	
  living?”	
  	
  	
  The	
   children	
   are	
   eventually	
   taken	
   in	
   by	
   an	
   empathetic	
   neighbour	
   who	
   cares	
   for	
  them.	
   They	
   recover	
   from	
   guinea	
  worms	
   and	
   are	
   given	
   a	
   limited	
   education.	
  When	
  their	
   father	
   dies	
   of	
   HIV/AIDS,	
   an	
   Aunt,	
  who	
   is	
   no	
   longer	
   apprehensive	
   of	
   Sarah’s	
  father’s	
  rages,	
  takes	
  in	
  the	
  children.	
  However,	
  this	
  is	
  only	
  a	
  brief	
  reprieve	
  in	
  Sarah’s	
  life,	
  as	
  she	
   is	
  soon	
  caught	
  up	
   in	
   the	
  war	
  between	
  Ugandan	
  government	
   forces	
  and	
  the	
   LRA	
   and	
   is	
   captured	
   by	
   the	
   rebel	
   group	
   along	
   with	
   her	
   brothers.	
   During	
   the	
  forced	
   march	
   to	
   southern	
   Sudan,	
   many	
   of	
   the	
   children	
   are	
   killed,	
   or	
   die	
   of	
  exhaustion.	
   Sarah	
  almost	
   succumbs	
   to	
   a	
   similar	
   fate,	
   as	
   she	
   is	
   unable	
   to	
   carry	
   the	
  enormous	
  load	
  she	
  is	
  given	
  on	
  the	
  cruel	
  three-­‐day	
  march.	
  She	
  stops	
  walking,	
  and	
  in	
  a	
  moment	
  reminiscent	
  of	
  her	
  childhood	
  confrontation	
  with	
  her	
  father,	
  she	
  tells	
  the	
  commander’s	
  wife	
   threatening	
   to	
   kill	
   her	
   that,	
   “I	
   am	
  not	
   scared	
   of	
   anything	
   to	
   do	
  with	
   death.	
   To	
  me	
   death	
   is	
   better	
   than	
   injury	
   or	
   the	
   pain	
   I	
   am	
   having	
   now.”	
   She	
  repeats	
  her	
   statements	
  when	
   the	
   commander	
   arrives	
   to	
   see	
  what	
   is	
   going	
  on	
   and	
  adds	
   to	
   her	
   inability	
   to	
   continue	
   living	
   a	
   list	
   of	
   grievances	
  which	
   the	
   commander	
  listens	
  to	
  attentively:	
  “This	
  woman	
  gave	
  me	
  so	
  many	
  luggages	
  that	
  I	
  was	
  unable	
  to	
   	
  	
  	
   11	
   walk.	
  My	
  arms	
  are	
  all	
  numb;	
  I	
  can’t	
  even	
  lift	
  them.	
  She	
  is	
  beating	
  me	
  …	
  My	
  legs	
  are	
  also	
  hurting…	
  Let	
  her	
  kill	
  me.”	
  	
  In	
  her	
  challenge	
  to	
  the	
  commander	
  and	
  his	
  wife,	
  Sarah	
  shames	
  them	
  into	
  alleviating	
  some	
   of	
   the	
   load,	
   and	
   they	
   continue	
   on	
   to	
   the	
   camps	
   in	
   Sudan.	
   Other	
   children,	
  including	
  relatives	
  captured	
  along	
  with	
  Sarah	
  are	
  not	
  so	
  lucky:	
  “Along	
  the	
  way,	
  my	
  aunt’s	
   grandson	
   failed	
   to	
  walk.	
  The	
   rebels	
   killed	
   the	
  boy.”	
  Once	
   they	
   arrive	
   at	
   the	
  camp,	
  she	
  is	
  ‘distributed	
  out’	
  to	
  a	
  commander	
  to	
  be	
  his	
  ‘bush-­‐wife’,	
  who	
  happens	
  to	
  be	
   her	
   uncle.	
   This	
   gives	
   her	
  momentary	
   hope	
   of	
   protection:	
   “I	
  was	
   overwhelmed	
  with	
   joy”,	
  which	
   is	
   soon	
  dashed	
  when	
  her	
  uncle	
  discovers	
   this	
   familial	
   connection	
  and	
   she	
   is	
   sent	
   to	
   another	
   commander,	
   “an	
   old	
  man	
  with	
   spotty	
   grey	
   hair	
   on	
   his	
  head”	
  instead.22	
  	
  	
  Sarah	
  was	
   thirteen	
   and	
   completely	
   unaware	
   about	
   what	
   her	
   new	
   status	
   as	
   ‘bush	
  wife’	
  meant:	
  “at	
  the	
  time	
  I	
  had	
  no	
  idea	
  what	
  he	
  was	
  doing”.	
  Within	
  a	
  few	
  days,	
  the	
  commander	
  rapes	
  Sarah	
  who	
  resists	
  his	
  assaults	
  as	
  best	
  she	
  can	
  “he	
  started	
  his	
  act	
  and	
  I	
  started	
  crying	
  out	
  aloud.	
  I	
  did	
  not	
  make	
  a	
  mild	
  cry,	
  I	
  cried	
  out	
  aloud	
  …	
  I	
  was	
  fighting	
   him	
   the	
   whole	
   time;	
   I	
   was	
   crying	
   and	
   struggled	
   against	
   the	
  man	
   and	
   he	
  slapped	
  me,	
  pinned	
  me	
  down	
  and	
  strangled	
  my	
  neck.”	
   In	
  the	
   life	
  of	
   the	
  LRA	
  camp,	
  such	
  gender-­‐based	
  violence	
  was	
  not	
  unusual	
  as	
  many	
  girls	
  went	
  from	
  being	
  ting-­ting	
  [young	
   female	
   servants]	
   to	
   forced	
  wives	
  once	
   they	
   came	
  of	
   age	
   and	
   such	
  violence	
  was	
   unremarkable:	
   “he	
   didn’t	
   care	
   that	
   he	
  was	
   hurting	
  me	
   and	
   I	
   was	
   completely	
  helpless	
   to	
   stop	
   him.”	
   Life	
   continues	
   on	
   in	
   the	
   camp.	
   The	
   social	
   processes	
   of	
  war	
  mean	
  that	
  relationships	
  are	
  relearned,	
  behaviour	
  is	
  carefully	
  modified	
  to	
  conform	
  to	
  the	
  strict	
  rules	
  of	
  the	
  LRA,	
  and	
  people	
  navigate	
  through	
  the	
  morally	
  ambiguous	
  zone	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  22	
  Commanders	
  in	
  the	
  bush	
  were	
  provided	
  with	
  ting-­ting	
  (young	
  prepubescent	
  girls)	
  as	
  servants	
  who	
  would	
  eventually	
  become	
  their	
  ‘wives’.	
  As	
  Sarah	
  was	
  related	
  to	
  this	
  commander,	
  she	
  was	
  not	
  permitted	
  to	
  become	
  part	
  of	
  his	
  household.	
  On	
  a	
  more	
  strategic	
  level,	
  the	
  LRA	
  was	
  careful	
  to	
  break	
  up	
  family	
  networks	
  to	
  ensure	
  that	
  newly	
  abducted	
  people	
  were	
  forced	
  to	
  renounce	
  their	
  pre-­‐bush	
  life	
  and	
  quickly	
  adapt	
  to	
  life	
  in	
  the	
  group.	
  	
   	
  	
  	
   12	
   exercising	
  limited	
  agency	
  when	
  possible.23	
  Unable	
  to	
  break	
  out	
  of	
  her	
  bush-­‐marriage	
  to	
   the	
   commander	
  who	
   continues	
   to	
   rape	
   her,	
   Sarah	
   refuses	
   to	
   ever	
   smile	
   at	
   him	
  despite	
  his	
  pleas	
  for	
  her	
  to	
  do	
  so,	
  and	
  uses	
  this	
  refusal	
  as	
  a	
  form	
  of	
  resistance	
  and	
  dignity:	
  “I	
  will	
  die	
  before	
  I	
  let	
  you	
  see	
  my	
  teeth.	
  …	
  No	
  on	
  else	
  in	
  my	
  life	
  has	
  ever	
  done	
  to	
  me	
  what	
  you	
  did.”	
  	
  	
  Eventually,	
  after	
  several	
  years,	
  she	
  escapes	
  from	
  the	
  LRA	
  during	
  a	
  raid	
  on	
  a	
  village	
  in	
  Uganda	
  where	
   she	
   is	
   able	
   to	
   sneak	
   off	
   and	
   hide	
  with	
   the	
   villagers	
   in	
   the	
   bush.	
  After	
  the	
  LRA	
  retreat,	
  she	
  heads	
  into	
  the	
  main	
  trading	
  centre	
  of	
  the	
  town	
  in	
  order	
  to	
  officially	
   defect	
   and	
   is	
   taken	
   to	
   the	
   Government	
   army	
   barracks.	
   The	
   Ugandan	
  People’s	
  Defence	
  Force	
  (UPDF)	
  tries	
  to	
  convince	
  Sarah	
  and	
  other	
  defectors	
  that	
  they	
  should	
  join	
  the	
  military;	
  they	
  refuse	
  and	
  are	
  detained	
  for	
  a	
  month.	
  Finally,	
  Sarah	
  is	
  taken	
   to	
   World	
   Vision	
   where	
   she	
   is	
   provided	
   with	
   limited	
   vocational	
   training	
   in	
  Gulu.	
   She	
   wants	
   to	
   stay	
   in	
   Gulu,	
   but	
   World	
   Vision	
   refuses,	
   “all	
   they	
   did	
   was	
  rehabilitate	
  and	
  send	
  people	
  to	
  their	
  parents	
  if	
  they	
  were	
  alive,	
  or	
  to	
  another	
  living	
  clan	
  mate.”	
   She	
   tells	
   them	
  she	
  has	
  nowhere	
   to	
  go	
  and	
   lacks	
   living	
   relatives,	
   but	
   is	
  taken	
  back	
  her	
  old	
  village	
  regardless:	
  “they	
  took	
  me	
  back	
  to	
  the	
  IDP	
  camp	
  that	
  had	
  been	
  set	
  up	
  in	
  my	
  home	
  village	
  but	
  could	
  find	
  no	
  one	
  to	
  leave	
  me	
  with.	
  So	
  they	
  off-­‐loaded	
   my	
   things	
   and	
   placed	
   them	
   under	
   a	
   mango	
   tree	
   by	
   the	
   roadside.”	
   The	
  involvement	
  of	
  World	
  Vision	
  in	
  Sarah’s	
  narrative	
  attests	
  to	
  the	
  internationalisation	
  of	
  conflict	
  as	
  well	
  as	
  the	
  complex	
  and	
  diverse	
  range	
  of	
  actors	
  that	
  combine	
  to	
  affect	
  her	
  life.	
  	
  	
  Lacking	
   options	
   and	
   faced	
   with	
   pressing	
   survival	
   needs,	
   Sarah	
   decides	
   to	
   ‘find	
   a	
  man’	
   to	
  support	
  her,	
  and	
  seeks	
  out	
  a	
   former	
  boyfriend,	
  now	
  with	
   four	
  wives.	
  This	
  decision	
  is	
  justified	
  by	
  Sarah	
  who	
  says,	
  “if	
  it	
  requires	
  sex	
  that	
  ceased	
  to	
  be	
  a	
  problem	
  long	
  ago,	
  in	
  fact	
  nothing	
  else	
  is	
  a	
  problem	
  except	
  food.	
  I	
  need	
  to	
  stay	
  alive.”	
  Such	
  a	
  choice	
   is	
   exercised	
   under	
   a	
   culture	
   embroiled	
   in	
   a	
   hegemonic	
   militarised	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  23	
  For	
  an	
  excellent	
  discussion	
  on	
  how	
  people	
  improvise	
  new	
  social	
  networks	
  during	
  times	
  of	
  crisis	
  see:	
  Chris	
  Coulter,	
  (2008),	
  ‘Female	
  Fighters	
  in	
  the	
  Sierra	
  Leone	
  War:	
  Challenging	
  the	
  Assumptions?”,	
  Feminist	
  Review,	
  No.	
  88	
   	
  	
  	
   13	
   masculinity	
   that	
   creates	
   conditions	
  where	
   the	
   space	
   for	
  manoeuvring	
  was	
   tightly	
  constrained	
  by	
  a	
  structure	
  that	
  severely	
  limits	
  the	
  options	
  available	
  for	
  women.24	
  As	
  Chris	
   Coulter	
   explains	
   in	
   her	
   study	
  on	
   Sierra	
   Leonean	
   female	
   fighters	
   “sometimes	
  the	
  only	
  choice	
  was	
  between	
  becoming	
  a	
  fighter/lover	
  or	
  dying,	
  which	
  is	
  not	
  really	
  much	
  of	
  a	
  choice	
  at	
  all.”25	
  Similar	
  structural	
  constraints,	
  compounded	
  by	
  her	
  lack	
  of	
  social	
  networks,	
  circumscribe	
  the	
  range	
  of	
  possible	
  choices	
  available	
  to	
  keep	
  Sarah	
  alive.	
  	
  	
  Living	
   in	
  a	
   state	
  of	
  acute	
   instability	
   in	
   the	
   IDP	
  as	
   the	
   insurgency	
   intensifies	
   in	
  her	
  region,	
   Sarah	
   is	
   re-­‐captured,	
   attacked,	
   and	
   raped	
   by	
   the	
   LRA.	
   She	
   says	
   she	
   was	
  “beaten	
  until	
  I	
  was	
  clueless	
  –	
  I	
  still	
  can’t	
  remember	
  it	
  clearly	
  […]	
  while	
  they	
  held	
  me,	
  they	
  sexually	
  harassed	
  me	
  and	
  left	
  me	
  with	
  a	
  pregnancy.”	
  Children	
  born	
  of	
  rape	
  in	
  war	
   in	
   Northern	
   Uganda	
   often	
   face	
   societal	
   stigma	
   as	
   the	
   shame	
   and	
   pain	
   of	
   the	
  community	
  is	
  placed	
  on	
  the	
  child.	
  Sarah’s	
  baby	
  is	
  no	
  exception	
  and	
  is	
  rejected	
  by	
  her	
  boyfriend,	
  who	
  claims	
  the	
  baby	
  is	
  “typical	
  of	
  a	
  bush	
  child.”	
  Although	
  he	
  allows	
  her	
  to	
  stay	
  in	
  his	
  compound	
  with	
  the	
  child,	
  he	
  refuses	
  to	
  support	
  her,	
  which	
  pushes	
  Sarah	
  into	
  a	
  state	
  of	
  insecurity	
  and	
  starvation.	
  	
  	
  Within	
   the	
   village,	
   Sarah	
   faces	
   ongoing	
   stigma	
   because	
   of	
   her	
   time	
   in	
   the	
   LRA.	
  Returnees	
  face	
  suspicions	
  that	
  they	
  have	
  been	
  tarnished	
  with	
  cen,	
  and	
  Sarah,	
  easily	
  recognisable	
   through	
   her	
   physical	
   injuries	
   seems	
   to	
   embody	
   misfortune.	
  Communities	
  attempt	
  to	
  separate	
  themselves	
  from	
  those	
  contaminated	
  by	
  cen	
  in	
  the	
  belief	
   that	
   it	
   is	
   transmittable.	
   Consequently	
   Sarah	
   is	
   forced	
   to	
   walk	
   ahead	
   of	
   the	
  others	
   when	
   gathering	
   crops	
   outside	
   of	
   the	
   protection	
   of	
   the	
   IDP	
   camps	
   in	
   case	
  “something	
  bad	
  happened,	
   it	
  would	
  begin	
  with	
  me.”26	
  This	
   treatment	
  by	
   the	
  other	
  villagers	
  leaves	
  her	
  bitter	
  and	
  angry,	
  “To	
  be	
  frank	
  with	
  you,	
  I	
  will	
  find	
  peace	
  the	
  day	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  24	
  Coulter,	
  Female	
  Fighters	
  in	
  the	
  Sierra	
  Leone	
  War,	
  p.	
  67	
  25	
  ibid.,	
  p.	
  68	
  26	
  Erin	
  Baines,	
  (2010),	
  ‘Spirits	
  and	
  Social	
  Reconstruction	
  after	
  Mass	
  Violence:	
  Rethinking	
  Transitional	
  Justice’,	
  African	
  Affairs,	
  Vol.	
  109,	
  Iss.	
  436,	
  p.	
  423	
   	
  	
  	
   14	
   I	
  die.”	
  As	
  she	
  walks	
  out	
  ahead	
  of	
  the	
  other	
  villagers,	
  she	
  is	
  captured	
  for	
  a	
  third	
  time	
  by	
  the	
  LRA	
  who	
  surprise	
  her	
  in	
  the	
  fields.	
  The	
  other	
  villagers	
  flee	
  to	
  safety.	
  	
  	
  The	
   LRA	
   rebels	
   take	
   her	
   and	
   her	
   baby	
   to	
   an	
   abandoned	
   homestead	
  where	
   she	
   is	
  told:	
   “woman,	
   I	
   regret	
   that	
   you	
  will	
   die	
   today.”	
   Sarah	
   answers	
   in	
   return	
   that	
   she	
  accepts	
   such	
   a	
   prospect;	
   death	
   holds	
   no	
   fear	
   for	
   those	
   already	
   dancing	
   at	
   the	
  borders.	
  She	
  says,	
  “from	
  my	
  perspective,	
  death	
  is	
  there	
  and	
  it	
  is	
  unavoidable.	
  I	
  want	
  you	
  people	
  to	
  kill	
  me	
  […]”	
  They	
  begin	
  to	
  torment	
  her	
  and	
  beat	
  her	
  severely	
  over	
  a	
  long,	
  protracted	
  period	
  with	
  blunt	
  pangas	
  [machetes]	
  and	
  canes,	
  but	
  Sarah	
  does	
  not	
  die.	
  She	
  lies	
  there	
  calmly	
  throughout	
  the	
  attack,	
  embracing	
  death	
  and	
  talking	
  to	
  God,	
  saying,	
  “I	
  will	
  not	
  go	
  anywhere	
  else	
  but	
  to	
  you,	
  God.	
  I	
  did	
  not	
  call	
  for	
  this	
  death	
  but	
  here	
  I	
  am	
  dying.	
  It	
  is	
  up	
  to	
  you	
  to	
  know	
  this	
  and	
  what	
  to	
  do	
  with	
  me.”	
  Her	
  failure	
  to	
  die	
  frightens	
  her	
  perpetrators	
  who	
  assume	
  that	
  she	
  is	
  a	
  witch	
  or	
  protected	
  by	
  cen.	
  Their	
  efforts	
   to	
  kill	
  her	
  are	
   renewed,	
  as	
   they	
  club	
  her,	
   jump	
  on	
  her,	
  whip	
  her	
  and	
  cane	
  her.	
  During	
   the	
   attack,	
   Sarah	
  begins	
   to	
  become	
  disassociated	
   from	
  her	
  body,	
  “everything	
  else	
  they	
  did	
  to	
  me	
  was	
  more	
  like	
  a	
  dream.	
  I	
  did	
  not	
  know	
  whether	
  or	
  not	
   I	
  was	
  dead.	
   It	
  was	
   like	
   I	
  was	
  narrating	
  what	
  was	
  happening	
   to	
  me	
   to	
  a	
   friend	
  […]”	
  	
  	
  Finally,	
   the	
  rebels	
   leave	
  her	
  and	
  her	
  baby	
  for	
  dead.	
  She	
  wakes	
  up	
  in	
  the	
  hospital	
  a	
  week	
  later	
  where	
  she	
  learns	
  that	
  a	
  hunter	
  passing	
  by	
  had	
  rescued	
  her.	
  She	
  wants	
  to	
  interact	
   with	
   people	
   as	
   before,	
   but	
   her	
   attack	
   leaves	
   her	
  mentally	
   and	
   physically	
  disabled.	
   “I	
   was	
   not	
   yet	
   speaking	
   clearly	
   and	
   my	
   memory	
   was	
   still	
   very	
   poor.	
   If	
  someone	
  needed	
  to	
  talk	
  to	
  me,	
  he	
  or	
  she	
  would	
  have	
  to	
  whisper	
  very	
  quietly.	
  If	
  they	
  shouted,	
  I	
  would	
  collapse	
  because	
  it	
  felt	
  like	
  the	
  rebels	
  were	
  back.	
  During	
  that	
  time	
  I	
  was	
  more	
  of	
  a	
  mad	
  person.”	
  Her	
  physical	
  wounds	
  remain	
  critical,	
  “I	
  tried	
  lifting	
  my	
  arms	
  but	
  it	
  was	
  impossible.	
  I	
  tried	
  lifting	
  my	
  entire	
  body	
  but	
  still	
  could	
  not.	
  I	
  felt	
  as	
  though	
  sand	
  was	
  packed	
  into	
  my	
  head	
  which	
  felt	
  like	
  a	
  child’s	
  play	
  ball	
  with	
  no	
  life	
  in	
   it	
   at	
   all.”	
   She	
   is	
   unable	
   to	
   care	
   for	
   her	
   child	
   or	
   remember	
   things	
   clearly,	
   and	
   is	
  completely	
  isolated	
  in	
  her	
  ‘madness’	
  until	
  she	
  begins	
  to	
  learn	
  how	
  to	
  speak	
  again.	
  	
   	
  	
  	
   15	
   	
  The	
  structural	
  violence	
  of	
  poverty	
  ensures	
  that	
  the	
  vicious	
  attack	
  Sarah	
  underwent	
  by	
   no	
   means	
   the	
   end	
   of	
   her	
   suffering.	
   She	
   embodies	
   the	
   violence	
   that	
   she	
   has	
  suffered	
   to	
   the	
   point	
   where	
   people	
   are	
   uncomfortable	
   and	
   stare	
   fearfully.	
   Upon	
  release	
  from	
  the	
  hospital,	
  still	
  suffering	
  from	
  the	
  physical	
  and	
  mental	
  affects	
  of	
  her	
  attack,	
  Sarah	
  returns	
  to	
  her	
  husband	
  who	
  forces	
  her	
  to	
  work	
  off	
  her	
  apparent	
  ‘debt’	
  to	
  him	
  before	
  leaving:	
  he	
  tells	
  her,	
  “when	
  I	
  got	
  you,	
  you	
  were	
  healthy	
  but	
  now	
  you	
  are	
  disabled.	
  …	
  You	
  are	
  just	
  useless.	
  The	
  very	
  child	
  you	
  have,	
  you	
  got	
  from	
  the	
  bush	
  and	
  it’s	
  a	
  rebel’s	
  child.	
  It	
  has	
  become	
  impossible	
  for	
  you	
  to	
  stay	
  here.”	
  She	
  works	
  for	
  this	
  man	
  until	
  he	
  is	
  satisfied	
  she	
  has	
  ‘repaid’	
  him	
  enough,	
  before	
  leaving	
  to	
  find	
  her	
  mother	
  in	
  Gulu.	
  She	
  finds	
  it	
  difficult	
  to	
  get	
  a	
  ride	
  there	
  because	
  of	
  her	
  appearance.	
  She	
  appeals	
  to	
  people	
  passing	
  her	
  as	
  she	
  waits	
  by	
  the	
  roadside	
  for	
  a	
  life,	
  “I	
  am	
  not	
  mad,	
  but	
  the	
  problems	
  and	
  injuries	
  that	
  I	
  have	
  been	
  through	
  are	
  what	
  has	
  made	
  me	
  look	
  like	
  this	
  now.”	
  	
  	
  Eventually	
  she	
  arrives	
  in	
  Gulu	
  and	
  settles	
  down	
  in	
  a	
  termite-­‐ridden	
  shack	
  that	
  had	
  been	
   abandoned.	
   She	
   survives	
   by	
   begging	
   for	
   leftovers	
   from	
   restaurants	
   and	
  eventually	
   finds	
   her	
   mother.	
   However,	
   Sarah’s	
   mother’s	
   new	
   partner	
   refuses	
   to	
  allow	
   her	
   to	
   stay	
   because	
   of	
   her	
   perceived	
   cen,	
   calling	
   her	
   “that	
   spirit	
   haunted	
  daughter”,	
   and	
   asking	
   her	
  mother,	
   “do	
   you	
  want	
   her	
   to	
   kill	
   and	
   finish	
   off	
   all	
   our	
  children?”	
   She	
   returns	
   to	
   her	
   shack	
   and	
   soon	
   finds	
   herself	
   the	
   caregiver	
   of	
   her	
  brother’s	
   two	
  children	
  who	
  had	
  escaped	
  the	
  LRA	
  and	
   found	
  their	
  way	
  to	
  her	
  after	
  her	
   brother’s	
   death	
   in	
   the	
   bush.	
   Faced	
  with	
   the	
   prospect	
   of	
   attempting	
   to	
   sustain	
  herself	
  and	
   three	
  children	
  with	
  only	
   leftover	
  scraps,	
   she	
  goes	
  about	
   finding	
  a	
  new	
  husband	
  to	
  support	
  her.	
  She	
  finds	
  a	
  man	
  who	
  she	
  reveals	
  her	
  past	
  difficulties	
  to	
  and	
  settles	
  down	
  with	
  him	
  for	
  three	
  years,	
  during	
  which	
  time	
  she	
  gives	
  birth	
  to	
  a	
  child.	
  However,	
   this	
  man	
   begins	
   to	
   accuse	
   her	
   of	
   participation	
   in	
  massacres	
   during	
   her	
  time	
   in	
   the	
   LRA,	
   harmful	
   accusations	
   that	
   threaten	
   Sarah’s	
   ability	
   to	
   live	
   in	
   the	
  community.	
   The	
   ongoing	
   suspicion	
   of	
   returnees	
   is	
   a	
   violence	
   experienced	
   by	
  formerly	
  abducted	
  youth.	
  In	
  the	
  case	
  of	
  Sarah,	
  she	
  had	
  been	
  forced	
  to	
  kill	
  in	
  battle,	
   	
  	
  	
   16	
   but	
  reminds	
  us	
   that	
   “outside	
  of	
   that,	
   I	
  haven’t	
  killed	
  anyone.	
   In	
   fact,	
   I	
  was	
   the	
  one	
  whom	
  they	
  committed	
  violence	
  on.”	
   	
  Sarah	
   leaves	
  her	
  husband	
  because	
  of	
  his	
  accusations,	
  unable	
   to	
   live	
  with	
  someone	
  who	
   views	
  her	
   as	
   a	
  murderer.	
   Soon	
   after	
   she	
   leaves	
   their	
   baby	
  becomes	
   sick	
   and	
  dies.	
   Her	
   former	
   husband	
   accuses	
   her	
   of	
   killing	
   the	
   baby:	
   “he	
   said	
   I	
   was	
   a	
   serial	
  killer”.	
  After	
  the	
  burial	
  of	
  the	
  child,	
  she	
  is	
  made	
  to	
  return	
  to	
  his	
  compound,	
  but	
  again	
  must	
   survive	
   on	
   leftovers	
   as	
   the	
   man	
   will	
   not	
   support	
   her.	
   The	
   indignity	
   of	
   her	
  situation	
  compels	
  her	
  to	
  return	
  to	
  her	
  old	
  termite	
  infested	
  shack:	
  “You	
  insist	
  that	
  I	
  stay,	
  but	
  with	
  all	
  these	
  hardships	
  how	
  am	
  I	
  to	
  handle	
  it	
  here?”	
  During	
  a	
  brief	
  reunion	
  with	
  this	
  man	
  some	
  time	
  later,	
  she	
  becomes	
  pregnant	
  once	
  more,	
  however,	
  “the	
  man	
  rejected	
  the	
  baby,	
  saying	
  it	
  was	
  begotten	
  out	
  of	
  my	
  prostitution	
  along	
  the	
  road	
  side.”	
  Thus,	
  a	
  pregnant	
  Sarah	
  is	
  left	
  to	
  care	
  for	
  three	
  children	
  and	
  with	
  little	
  other	
  choice,	
  again	
  looks	
  to	
  find	
  a	
  new	
  husband	
  to	
  support	
  her.	
  	
  	
  She	
   finds	
  another	
  man	
  eventually	
  and	
  again	
  becomes	
  pregnant.	
  He	
   is	
  overjoyed	
  at	
  this	
  news,	
  but	
  wants	
  her	
  to	
  abandon	
  her	
  other	
  children.	
  She	
  refuses,	
  “I	
  have	
  worried	
  for	
  so	
  many	
  years,	
  cried	
  for	
  many	
  years	
  and	
  felt	
  bitter	
  about	
  what	
  has	
  happened	
  to	
  me.	
  I	
  do	
  not	
  want	
  that	
  anymore	
  and	
  I	
  will	
  look	
  after	
  these	
  children.”	
  She	
  recognises	
  that	
  her	
  children	
  increase	
  her	
  hardship,	
  but	
  lacks	
  access	
  to	
  adequate	
  birth	
  control.	
  Looking	
  ahead	
  she	
  worries	
  about	
  how	
  she	
  will	
  be	
  able	
  to	
  take	
  care	
  of	
  five	
  children	
  without	
  male	
   support,	
   “I	
   have	
   not	
   got	
   any	
  man’s	
  money”.	
   She	
   also	
  worries	
   about	
  finding	
  a	
  more	
  permanent	
  place	
  to	
  live	
  as	
  “with	
  all	
  the	
  hatred	
  in	
  my	
  village,	
  I	
  cannot	
  go	
  there”	
  and	
  she	
  knows	
  her	
  mother	
  cannot	
  take	
  her	
  in.	
  She	
  is	
  unable	
  to	
  afford	
  her	
  children’s	
  school	
  fees,	
  and	
  can	
  only	
  pay	
  for	
  them	
  to	
  sit	
  their	
  exams.	
  Propelled	
  into	
  a	
  space	
  of	
  social	
  death,	
   lacking	
  social	
  networks,	
  and	
   facing	
  reduced	
  opportunities	
   to	
  advance	
   her	
   life	
   projects,	
   Sarah	
   testifies	
   from	
   a	
   space	
   of	
   tremendous	
   pain	
   and	
  disappointment.	
  	
  	
   	
  	
  	
   17	
   Sarah’s	
   social	
   death	
   is	
   partly	
   a	
   pre-­‐existing	
   condition	
   reflecting	
   her	
   childhood	
  suffering	
   and	
   invisibility,	
   but	
   is	
   combined	
   with	
   the	
   social	
   stigma	
   that	
   formally	
  abducted	
  returnees	
  encounter,	
  exacerbated	
  by	
   fears	
  of	
  cen.	
  The	
  marginalisation	
  of	
  returnees	
   is	
   somewhat	
   reminiscent	
   of	
   Nancy	
   Scheper-­‐Hughes’	
   discussions	
   on	
  transitional	
   objects	
   –	
   those	
   “neither	
   of	
   this	
   earth	
   nor	
   yet	
   fully	
   spirits.”27	
   She	
  examines	
  the	
  “angel-­‐babies”	
  of	
  the	
  Alto	
  in	
  Brazil	
  who	
  were	
  slowly	
  starved	
  to	
  death	
  by	
  their	
  mothers	
  and	
  who	
  were	
  ghost-­‐like	
  in	
  appearance,	
  “pale,	
  wispy	
  haired,	
  their	
  arms	
  and	
  legs	
  stripped	
  of	
  flesh,	
  their	
  bellies	
  grossly	
  extended,	
  their	
  eyes	
  blank	
  and	
  staring”.28	
   Like	
   the	
   angel-­‐babies,	
   Sarah	
   occupies	
   an	
   ambiguous	
   state	
   between	
   life	
  and	
  death.	
   Suspected	
  of	
  participation	
   in	
  massacres	
  and	
  notably	
  physically	
   scarred	
  from	
   her	
   wartime	
   experiences,	
   Sarah	
   is	
   set	
   apart.	
   Already	
   embracing	
   death,	
   she	
  accepts	
  her	
  position	
  as	
  socially	
  dead,	
  and	
  seems	
  to	
  continue	
  living	
  in	
  this	
  state	
  only	
  as	
  a	
  difficult	
  interlude	
  before	
  the	
  rest	
  she	
  has	
  desired	
  since	
  childhood.	
  	
  	
  	
  She	
   finishes	
  her	
   testimony	
  with	
  her	
   thoughts	
  on	
  her	
   life	
  and	
  her	
   future	
  prospects.	
  Just	
  twenty-­‐five,	
  she	
  summarises	
  her	
  past	
  despondently,	
  “all	
  in	
  all	
  I	
  persevered”.	
  The	
  violence	
  of	
  poverty	
  curtails	
  her	
  life	
  projects,	
  and	
  those	
  of	
  her	
  children.	
  She	
  ends	
  her	
  narrative	
  with	
  the	
  following	
  bleak	
  assessment:	
  	
   	
  I	
  am	
  just	
  on	
  a	
  time	
  bomb;	
  there	
  are	
  times	
  when	
  I	
  say	
  it	
  is	
  better	
  if	
  God	
  takes	
  away	
  your	
   life.	
   Life	
   on	
   earth	
  has	
  become	
   so	
  hard.	
   You	
   can	
  persevere	
  but	
   there	
   comes	
   a	
  time	
  when	
  you	
  give	
  up.	
  It	
  becomes	
  so	
  painful	
  and	
  unbearable.	
   The	
  Socially	
  Dead	
  Witness	
   	
  The	
   compulsion	
   to	
   bear	
  witness	
   by	
   survivors	
   of	
   atrocity	
   is	
   often	
   described	
   as	
   an	
  urgent	
   impulse	
  or	
  obligation,	
  with	
   the	
   feeling	
   that	
   survivors	
   “are	
   speaking	
   for	
   the	
  ones	
  who	
  did	
  not	
  return,	
  and	
  their	
  suffering	
  would	
  be	
  meaningless	
  if	
  this	
  story	
  was	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  27	
  Nancy	
  Scheper-­‐Hughes,	
  (2008),	
  ‘A	
  Talent	
  for	
  Life:	
  Reflections	
  on	
  Human	
  Vulnerability	
  and	
  Resilience’,	
  Ethnos,	
  Vol.	
  71,	
  No.	
  1,	
  p.	
  28	
  28	
  ibid.	
  	
   	
  	
  	
   18	
   silenced.”29	
   The	
   rising	
   use	
   of	
   survivor	
   testimonies	
   after	
   violence	
   gives	
   victims	
   a	
  space	
   to	
  construct	
  a	
  narrative	
   that,	
   according	
   to	
  Dori	
  Laub,	
  gives	
   “form,	
   structure,	
  and	
   intelligibility	
   to	
   the	
   incomprehensible	
   past	
   that	
   does	
   not	
   have	
   an	
   ending”	
  [emphasis	
   in	
   original].30	
   Such	
   accounts	
   have	
   moved	
   understandings	
   of	
   violence	
  beyond	
  the	
  traditional	
  documentary	
  archival	
  tools	
  available	
  to	
  researchers	
  and	
  have	
  created	
   a	
   “new	
   idiom”	
   of	
  memory	
   that	
   has	
   drastically	
   changed	
   how	
   the	
   effects	
   of	
  violence	
  on	
  a	
  person	
  or	
  community	
  are	
  understood.31	
  	
  	
  As	
  a	
  contested	
  project,	
   the	
  rising	
  use	
  of	
  witness	
   testimony	
  has	
  been	
  critiqued	
  and	
  questioned	
   from	
  several	
  different	
  angles.	
  These	
   include:	
   the	
  political	
   ramifications	
  of	
   bearing	
  witness,32	
   the	
  personal	
   or	
   institutionally-­‐enforced	
  difficulties	
   of	
   talking	
  about	
   sexual	
   violations	
   in	
   formal	
   settings,33	
   the	
   goals	
   or	
   purposes	
   of	
   testimony,34	
  and	
  the	
  relevance	
  of	
  personal	
  experience	
  to	
  understanding	
  a	
  violent	
  event.35	
  Nicola	
  Henry	
  makes	
  an	
  excellent	
  critique	
  of	
  the	
  way	
  popular	
  understandings	
  of	
  trauma	
  are	
  co-­‐opted	
   in	
   legal	
   settings	
   to	
   “essentially	
   treat	
   all	
   victims	
   of	
   traumatic	
   history	
   as	
  voiceless.”36	
   She	
   suggests,	
   but	
   does	
   not	
   elaborate	
   further,	
   that	
   narratives	
   of	
   pain	
  should	
  be	
  allowed	
  greater	
  creative	
  expression	
  in	
  a	
  trial	
  setting.37	
  	
  	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  29	
  Nora	
  Strejilevich,	
  (2006),	
  ‘Testimony:	
  Beyond	
  the	
  Language	
  of	
  Truth’,	
  Human	
  Rights	
   Quarterly,	
  Vol	
  28,	
  No.	
  3,	
  p.	
  702	
  30	
  Dori	
  Laub,	
  (2005),	
  ‘From	
  Speechlessness	
  to	
  Narrative:	
  The	
  Cases	
  of	
  Holocaust	
  Historians	
  and	
  of	
  Psychiatrically	
  Hospitalised	
  Survivors’,	
  Literature	
  and	
  Medicine,	
  Vol.	
  24,	
  No.	
  2,	
  p.	
  245	
  	
  	
  31	
  Shoshana	
  Felman,	
  (2002),	
  The	
  Juridical	
  Unconscious:	
  Trials	
  and	
  Traumas	
  in	
  the	
  Twentieth	
   Century,	
  Boston:	
  Harvard	
  University	
  Press,	
  p	
  106	
  	
  	
  32	
  Fiona	
  Ross,	
  (2003),	
  ‘On	
  Having	
  a	
  Voice	
  and	
  Being	
  Heard:	
  Some	
  After-­‐Effects	
  of	
  Testifying	
  Before	
  the	
  South	
  African	
  Truth	
  and	
  Reconciliation	
  Commission’,	
  Anthropological	
  Theory,	
  Vol.	
  3	
  33	
  Nicola	
  Henry,	
  (2010),	
  ‘The	
  Impossibility	
  of	
  Bearing	
  Witness:	
  Wartime	
  Rape	
  and	
  the	
  Promise	
  of	
  Justice’,	
  Violence	
  Against	
  Women,	
  Vol.	
  16,	
  No.	
  10,	
  p.	
  1106	
  34	
  Laub	
  and	
  Felman,	
  (1990),	
  Testimony:	
  Crises	
  of	
  Witnessing,	
  p.	
  60;	
  Inger	
  Agger	
  and	
  Søren	
  Buus	
  Jensen,	
  ‘Testimony	
  as	
  Ritual	
  and	
  Evidence	
  in	
  Psychotherapy	
  for	
  Political	
  Refugees’,	
   Journal	
  of	
  Traumatic	
  Stress,	
  Vol.	
  3,	
  No.	
  1	
  35	
  Annette	
  Wieviorka,	
  (2006),	
  The	
  Era	
  of	
  the	
  Witness,	
  Ithaca:	
  Cornell	
  University	
  Press,	
  p.	
  144	
  36	
  Henry,	
  The	
  Impossibility	
  of	
  Bearing	
  Witness,	
  p.	
  1112	
  37	
  ibid.,	
  p.	
  1113	
   	
  	
  	
   19	
   Like	
  the	
  debates	
  on	
  trauma,	
  attention	
  to	
  the	
  socially	
  dead	
  witness	
  usually	
  presumes	
  a	
   voicelessness	
   or	
   inability	
   to	
   represent	
   suffering.	
   I	
   will	
   elaborate	
   on	
   this	
   in	
   the	
  following	
  paragraphs	
  to	
  argue	
  that	
  such	
  claims	
  are	
  refuted	
  through	
  the	
  testimony	
  of	
  Sarah	
  and	
  thousands	
  of	
  others	
  who	
  readily	
  tell	
  their	
  stories	
  when	
  given	
  a	
  space	
  to	
  do	
   so.	
   Pain	
  does	
   render	
   communication	
  difficult,	
   but	
   if	
   a	
   creative,	
   empathetic	
   and	
  imaginative	
  approach	
  is	
  undertaken	
  when	
  listening,	
  we	
  can	
  begin	
  to	
  understand	
  the	
  suffering	
  of	
  Sarah	
  and	
  other	
  socially	
  dead	
  people.	
  	
  	
  Primo	
  Levi’s	
   account	
  of	
  his	
   time	
   in	
  Auschwitz	
   first	
   raises	
   the	
  question	
  of	
  whether	
  the	
  socially	
  dead	
  can	
  witness.	
  He	
  describes	
  one	
  of	
  the	
  death-­‐camps	
  most	
  frightening	
  figures:	
  the	
  Muselmänner	
  -­‐	
  a	
  person	
  so	
  destroyed	
  by	
  the	
  camp’s	
  conditions	
  that	
  they	
  have	
  become	
  part	
  of	
  an	
  anonymous	
  mass	
  of	
  non-­‐people:	
  “One	
  hesitates	
  to	
  call	
  them	
  living.	
  One	
  hesitates	
  to	
  call	
  their	
  death	
  death,	
  in	
  the	
  face	
  of	
  which	
  they	
  have	
  no	
  fear,	
  as	
   they	
  are	
   too	
   tired	
   to	
  understand.”38	
  The	
  Muselmänner	
   for	
  Levi	
   represented	
   the	
  ‘true	
  witness’,	
  as	
  it	
  is	
  only	
  they	
  who	
  “saw	
  the	
  Gorgon	
  [and]	
  have	
  not	
  returned	
  to	
  tell	
  about	
   it	
   or	
  have	
   returned	
  mute	
   […]	
   even	
   if	
   they	
  had	
  paper	
   and	
  pen,	
   the	
  drowned	
  would	
  not	
  have	
  testified	
  because	
  their	
  death	
  had	
  begun	
  before	
  that	
  of	
  their	
  body”.39	
  Thus,	
   according	
   to	
  Levi,	
   although	
   the	
  Muselmänner	
   are	
   the	
   true	
  witnesses,	
   even	
   if	
  they	
  survive,	
  they	
  cannot	
  bear	
  witness	
  -­‐	
  they	
  cannot	
  speak.	
  It	
  is	
  consequently	
  left	
  up	
  to	
  people	
  like	
  Levi,	
  and	
  others,	
  to	
  bear	
  witness	
  on	
  their	
  behalf	
  in	
  proxy.	
  	
  	
  Georgio	
  Agamben	
  takes	
  up	
  Levi’s	
  heavily	
  contextualised	
  claim	
  to	
  argue	
  that	
  even	
  if	
  survivor-­‐witnesses	
  speak	
  on	
  behalf	
  of	
  the	
  drowned,	
  “they	
  bear	
  witness	
  to	
  a	
  missing	
  testimony”	
  for	
  “the	
  drowned	
  have	
  nothing	
  to	
  say,	
  nor	
  do	
  they	
  have	
  instructions	
  or	
  memories	
   to	
   be	
   transmitted.	
   They	
   have	
   no	
   ‘story’.”40	
   For	
   Agamben	
   then,	
   survivor	
  testimony	
   is	
   “the	
   disjunction	
   between	
   two	
   impossibilities	
   of	
   bearing	
   witness”	
   as	
  “language,	
   in	
   order	
   to	
   bear	
   witness,	
   must	
   give	
   way	
   to	
   non-­‐language,	
   in	
   order	
   to	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  38	
  Primo	
  Levi,	
  (1961),	
  Survival	
  in	
  Auschwitz,	
  London:	
  Collier	
  Macmillan	
  Publishers,	
  p.	
  82	
  39	
  Primo	
  Levi,	
  (1988),	
  The	
  Drowned	
  and	
  the	
  Saved,	
  New	
  York:	
  Vintage	
  International,	
  pp.	
  83-­‐84	
  40	
  Giorgio	
  Agamben,	
  (2002),	
  Remnants	
  of	
  Auschwitz:	
  The	
  Witness	
  and	
  the	
  Archive,	
  New	
  York:	
  Zone	
  Books,	
  p.	
  34	
   	
  	
  	
   20	
   show	
  the	
  impossibility	
  of	
  bearing	
  witness.”41	
  For	
  Agamben	
  it	
  is	
  only	
  in	
  non-­‐language	
  or	
   silence	
   that	
   the	
   true	
  nature	
  of	
   suffering	
   can	
  be	
   revealed,	
   yet	
   it	
   is	
  precisely	
   this	
  inability	
  to	
  communicate	
  this	
  suffering	
  that	
  renders	
  the	
  testimony	
  unknowable.	
  	
  	
  Marianne	
  Hirsch	
  and	
  Leo	
  Spitzer	
  refute	
  the	
  “hyperbolic	
  emphasis	
  on	
  trauma	
  and	
  the	
  breakdown	
   of	
   speech”	
   that	
   Agamben	
   and	
   others	
   promote,	
   arguing	
   that	
   such	
  approaches	
  risk	
  “occluding	
  the	
  wealth	
  of	
  knowledge	
  and	
  information	
  transmitted	
  by	
  thousands	
   of	
   witnesses	
   who	
   have	
   been	
   eager	
   to	
   testify	
   to	
   the	
   victimization	
   and	
  persecution	
   they	
   have	
   suffered.”42	
   This	
   is	
   an	
   important	
   point,	
   for	
   the	
   silencing	
   of	
  survivor	
   narratives	
   risks	
   denigrating	
   the	
   transitional	
   justice	
   goals	
   achievable	
  through	
   the	
   evidence-­‐based	
   collection	
   and	
   documentation	
   of	
   testimonies	
   from	
  survivors.43	
  Hirsch	
  and	
  Spitzer	
  argue	
  that	
  the	
  human	
  elements	
  of	
  testimony:	
  affect,	
  silence,	
   and	
   embodiment,	
   are	
   characteristics	
   that	
   link	
   together	
   the	
   “diverse	
  catastrophes	
  of	
  our	
  time”	
  in	
  a	
  form	
  of	
  cosmopolitan	
  memory	
  that	
  speaks	
  against	
  the	
  hyperbolic	
   emphasis	
   on	
   muteness	
   following	
   trauma	
   and	
   rejects	
   exceptionalist	
   or	
  uniqueness	
  discourses	
  on	
  Holocaust	
  memory.44	
  The	
   testimonies	
  of	
   survivors	
   from	
  current	
  conflicts	
  consequently	
  “offer	
  a	
  political	
  urgency	
  for	
  memory	
  and	
  testimony	
  that	
   reflect	
   back	
   to	
   Holocaust	
   remembrance	
   and	
   inscribe	
   it	
   into	
   today’s	
   global	
  language	
  of	
  human	
  rights.”45	
  	
  	
  Hirsch	
   and	
   Spitzer	
   suggest	
   that	
   survivor	
   witnesses	
   constitute	
   a	
   living	
   archive	
   of	
  atrocity	
  and	
  survival	
  and	
  as	
  such	
  call	
   for	
  a	
  greater	
  recognition	
  of	
  the	
  performative	
  components	
   of	
   testimony	
   provision	
   such	
   as	
   silence,	
   emotional	
   outbursts,	
   pauses,	
  affect,	
   and	
   embodiment.	
   By	
   doing	
   this,	
   they	
   argue,	
   testimonies	
   transmit	
   a	
   form	
  of	
  truth	
   that	
   is	
   neither	
   narrative	
   nor	
   historical,	
   but	
   memory	
   based	
   and	
   meaning	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  41	
  ibid.,	
  p.	
  39	
  	
  42	
  Marianne	
  Hirsch	
  and	
  Leo	
  Spitzer,	
  (2009),	
  ‘The	
  Witness	
  in	
  the	
  Archive:	
  Holocaust	
  Studies/Memory	
  Studies’.	
  Memory	
  Studies,	
  Vol.	
  2,	
  No.	
  2,	
  p.	
  152	
  43	
  Erin	
  Baines	
  and	
  Pilar	
  Riaño	
  Alcalá,	
  ‘The	
  Archive	
  in	
  the	
  Witness:	
  Documentation	
  in	
  Settings	
  of	
  Chronic	
  Insecurity’,	
  forthcoming,	
  p.	
  2	
  44	
  Hirsch	
  and	
  Spitzer,	
  The	
  Witness	
  in	
  the	
  Archive,	
  p.	
  165	
  45	
  ibid.	
  	
   	
  	
  	
   21	
   infused	
  that	
   is	
  made	
  manifest	
   in	
  an	
  “embodied	
   form	
  of	
   ‘truthfulness’”.46	
  Embodied	
  forms	
   of	
   truthfulness	
   are	
   most	
   easily	
   recognisable	
   in	
   oral	
   and	
   video	
   testimony	
  where	
  the	
  performative	
  nature	
  of	
  memory	
  becomes	
  apparent.	
  As	
  Hirsch	
  and	
  Spitzer	
  explain	
  video	
  testimonies	
  show	
  “how	
  an	
  event	
  lives	
  on,	
  how	
  it	
  acquires,	
  keeps	
  and	
  changes	
   its	
   meaning	
   and	
   its	
   legacy	
   …	
   Listeners	
   must	
   hear	
   silence,	
   absence,	
  hesitation	
  and	
  resistance.	
  They	
  must	
  look	
  and	
  listen,	
  comparing	
  bodily	
  with	
  verbal	
  messages.”47	
   I	
   suggest	
   that	
   forms	
  of	
   embodiment	
  are	
  also	
  present	
   in	
  written	
   texts	
  through	
  experiences	
  described	
  by	
  survivors,	
  but	
  such	
  experiences	
  are	
  harder	
  for	
  the	
  reader	
   to	
   engage	
   with	
   empathically	
   in	
   the	
   absence	
   of	
   a	
   visible	
   survivor	
   and	
  consequently	
  require	
  an	
  imaginative	
  and	
  creative	
  response.	
  	
  	
  I	
  agree	
  with	
  Hirsch	
  and	
  Spitzer	
  that	
  survivors	
  of	
  atrocity	
  are	
  able	
  to	
  bear	
  witness	
  to	
  their	
   suffering	
   despite	
   difficulties	
   with	
   communicating	
   pain.	
   Testimony	
   holds	
   an	
  important	
   place	
   in	
   human	
   rights	
   and	
   justice	
   discourses	
   but	
   also	
   contains	
   insights	
  into	
   the	
  meaning	
  with	
  which	
   events	
   are	
   inscribed	
   and	
   reveals	
   ongoing	
   injustices.	
  Silencing	
   such	
   testimonies	
  due	
   to	
   an	
  exaggerated	
  emphasis	
  on	
   speechlessness	
  de-­‐politicises	
  the	
  value	
  of	
  survivor	
  accounts	
  of	
  violence,	
  conceals	
  their	
  knowledge	
  and	
  insights,	
   and	
   artificially	
   reifies	
   the	
   role	
   of	
   the	
   researcher.	
   In	
   the	
   following	
  paragraphs	
  I	
  outline	
  some	
  of	
  the	
  difficulties	
  that	
  arise	
  when	
  reading	
  the	
  testimony	
  of	
  the	
  socially	
  dead	
  and	
  the	
  challenges	
  of	
  expressing	
  embodied	
  experience	
  in	
  a	
  text.	
  I	
  then	
   turn	
   to	
   a	
  discussion	
  on	
   the	
  possible	
  ways	
   in	
  which	
  Sarah’s	
   testimony	
   can	
  be	
  listened	
  to	
  with	
  Hirsch	
  and	
  Spitzer’s	
  insights	
  in	
  mind.	
  	
   Embodied	
  Witness	
  	
  Anthropological	
   approaches	
   have	
   allowed	
   the	
   study	
   of	
  wartime	
   violence	
   to	
  move	
  from	
   catalogues	
   of	
   death	
   and	
   destruction	
   to	
   a	
   focus	
   on	
   the	
   “unique	
   and	
   subtle	
  survival	
   and	
   resistance	
   strategies	
   of	
   those	
  who	
   are	
   faced	
  with	
   terror	
   and	
   serious	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  46	
  ibid.,	
  pp.	
  161-­‐162	
  47	
  ibid.,	
  p.	
  163	
   	
  	
  	
   22	
   human	
   rights	
   violations	
   in	
   their	
   daily	
   lives”.48	
   Similarly,	
   socially	
   dead	
   witnesses	
  attest	
  to	
  different	
  forms	
  of	
  violations	
  that	
  overlap	
  on	
  the	
  person	
  in	
  debilitating	
  ways.	
  As	
  Arthur	
  Kleinman	
  explains,	
   it	
   is	
   inaccurate	
   to	
   speak	
  only	
  of	
  physical	
   violence	
   in	
  the	
   aftermath	
   of	
   atrocity	
   when	
   violence	
   is	
   manifest	
   in	
   a	
   variety	
   of	
   insidious	
   and	
  structural	
  forms	
  like	
  the	
  violence	
  of	
  poverty	
  and	
  engendered	
  violence.49	
  He	
  explains	
  how	
  “breaks	
  in	
  physical	
  bodies	
  and	
  social	
  bodies	
  are	
  further	
  intensified	
  by	
  violence	
  done	
   to	
   female	
   survivors	
   by	
   their	
   own	
   community,	
   by	
   their	
   families,	
   by	
   the	
  patriarchal	
   ideology,	
  and	
  not	
   least	
  by	
   their	
  own	
   inner	
  conflicts	
   […].”50	
  Attesting	
   to	
  diverse	
   and	
   ongoing	
   violences	
  moves	
   testimony	
   from	
   an	
   event-­‐based	
   project	
   to	
   a	
  recognition	
  of	
  profound	
  and	
  continuing	
  injustice.	
  	
  	
  A	
  major	
  difficulty	
  concerning	
  the	
  ability	
  of	
   the	
  socially	
  dead	
  to	
  bear	
  witness	
   is	
   the	
  issue	
  of	
  language.	
  Especially	
  problematic	
  is	
  the	
  inability	
  of	
  language	
  to	
  convey	
  pain.	
  Pain,	
   according	
   to	
   Elaine	
   Scarry,	
   defies	
   language	
   and	
   indeed	
   actively	
   shatters	
   it,	
  bringing	
   about,	
   as	
   she	
   asserts,	
   “an	
   immediate	
   reversion	
   to	
   a	
   state	
   anterior	
   to	
  language,	
   to	
   the	
   sounds	
   and	
   cries	
   a	
   human	
   being	
   makes	
   before	
   language	
   is	
  learned.”51	
   Such	
   sentiments	
   are	
   not	
   easily	
   translatable	
   into	
   testimony.	
   A	
   single	
  statement	
   from	
  Sarah	
  reads:	
  “When	
  the	
  baby	
  turned	
  nine	
  months	
  old,	
   it	
   fell	
  sick.	
   I	
  was	
  also	
  down	
  with	
  chest	
  pain.	
  There	
  was	
  no	
  one	
  to	
  take	
  the	
  baby	
  to	
  hospital,	
  so	
  it	
  died.”	
   It	
   would	
   be	
   impossible	
   for	
   such	
   numbing	
   language,	
   dragged	
   through	
   a	
  transcription	
   and	
   translation	
   processes,	
   to	
   express	
   the	
   deep	
   sense	
   of	
   loss,	
  community	
  disconnection,	
  fear,	
  helplessness,	
  and	
  pain	
  that	
  rests	
  behind	
  this	
  sparse	
  and	
   straightforward	
   statement.	
   Thus,	
   as	
   Scarry	
  writes,	
  whatever	
   pain	
   achieves	
   “it	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  48	
  Pilar	
  Riaño-­‐Alcalá,	
  ‘Emplaced	
  Witnessing:	
  Sites	
  of	
  Enquiry	
  and	
  Commemoration	
  in	
  Conflict	
  Zones’,	
  Forthcoming,	
  p.	
  6	
  49	
  Arthur	
  Kleinman,	
  (2000),	
  ‘The	
  Violences	
  of	
  Everyday	
  Life:	
  The	
  Multiple	
  Forms	
  and	
  Dynamics	
  of	
  Social	
  Violence’,	
  in	
  Veena	
  Das,	
  Arthur	
  Kleinman,	
  Mamphela	
  Ramphele,	
  and	
  Pamela	
  Reynolds,	
  (eds.)	
  Violence	
  and	
  Subjectivity,	
  Berkeley:	
  University	
  of	
  California	
  Press,	
  p.	
  227	
  	
  50	
  ibid.	
  	
  51	
  Elaine	
  Scarry,	
  (1985),	
  Body	
  in	
  Pain:	
  The	
  Making	
  and	
  Unmaking	
  of	
  the	
  World,	
  New	
  York:	
  Oxford	
  University	
  Press,	
  p.	
  4	
   	
  	
  	
   23	
   achieves	
  in	
  part	
  through	
  its	
  unsharability,	
  and	
  it	
  ensures	
  this	
  unsharability	
  through	
  its	
  resistance	
  to	
  language.”52	
  	
  	
  Such	
  problems	
  can	
  be	
  circumvented	
   through	
  an	
  understanding	
  of	
  Sarah’s	
  position	
  as	
   an	
   embodied	
   witness.	
   Sarah	
   bears	
   witness	
   to	
   the	
   violence	
   she	
   has	
   suffered	
  through	
  her	
  body	
  in	
  a	
  local	
  space	
  of	
  relational	
  memory	
  and	
  encounter.	
  Riaño-­‐Alcalá	
  explains	
  the	
  ‘local’	
  as	
  “the	
  social	
  tapestry	
  of	
  relations	
  and	
  identifications”	
  and	
  a	
  place	
  that	
   “provides	
   common	
   referents	
   of	
   suffering	
   and	
   memory	
   that	
   result	
   from	
   the	
  shared	
  experiences	
  of	
  terror,	
  displacement	
  and	
  pain.”	
  Sarah’s	
  daily-­‐lived	
  experience	
  of	
   violence	
   is	
   inscribed	
   upon	
  her	
   body	
   in	
   a	
   permanent	
   reminder	
   of	
   her	
   struggles,	
  both	
  to	
  her,	
  and	
  to	
  other	
  members	
  of	
  her	
  community:	
  “I	
  had	
  some	
  injuries	
  and	
  ill-­‐treatment	
  that	
  I	
  was	
  subjected	
  to;	
   it	
  made	
  me	
  look	
  like	
  what	
  you	
  are	
  seeing	
  now.”	
  Her	
  body	
  betrays	
  her	
  past	
   “I	
  have	
   talked	
  about	
  what	
  happened,	
   the	
   things	
   I	
   could	
  not	
  hide	
  from	
  anyone”	
  and	
  is	
  the	
  means	
  through	
  which	
  she	
  experiences	
  the	
  war	
  and	
  bears	
  witness	
  to	
  violence.	
  	
  	
  	
  Sarah	
  has	
  been	
  pushed	
  to	
  the	
  brink	
  of	
  death	
  during	
  her	
  short	
  life	
  so	
  many	
  times	
  that	
  she	
   has	
   begun	
   to	
   physically	
   embody	
   social	
   death.	
   She	
   understands	
   that	
   she	
   looks	
  different	
  as	
  a	
  result	
  of	
  the	
  overlapping	
  violences	
  she	
  encounters.	
  She	
  has	
  become	
  a	
  hypervisible,	
  invisible	
  figure	
  within	
  the	
  community.	
  Inhabiting	
  a	
  space	
  of	
  liminality,	
  she	
   is	
   peripheral	
   to	
   justice	
   efforts,	
   marginalised	
   even	
   by	
   other	
   survivors	
   and	
  rendered	
  invisible	
  within	
  the	
  fraught	
  post-­‐war	
  community.	
  At	
  the	
  same	
  time,	
  she	
  is	
  extraordinarily	
   visible	
   due	
   to	
   her	
   physical	
   appearance	
   and	
   embodied	
   experiences	
  that	
   act	
   as	
   permanent	
   visible	
   reminders	
   to	
   other	
   survivors	
   and	
   community	
  members	
  of	
  their	
  collective	
  suffering.	
  	
  	
  Her	
   location	
   as	
   an	
   embodied	
  witness	
   is	
   poignantly	
   illustrated	
   by	
   an	
   incident	
   she	
  recounts	
   in	
   a	
   group	
   discussion	
   organised	
   by	
   the	
   researchers	
   some	
   time	
   after	
   her	
  life-­‐story	
  has	
  already	
  been	
  recorded.	
  This	
  incident	
  links	
  the	
  ongoing	
  war	
  to	
  the	
  local	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  52	
  ibid.	
  	
   	
  	
  	
   24	
   and	
  demonstrates	
  how	
  Sarah	
  witnesses	
  from	
  a	
  local	
  site	
  that	
  reconstructs	
  spaces	
  “of	
  destruction,	
  providing	
  meaning	
  and	
  importantly,	
  establishing	
  connections.”53	
  Sarah	
  explains	
  how	
  during	
  her	
  time	
  in	
  the	
  LRA	
  she	
  was	
  sent	
  to	
  get	
  firewood	
  by	
  one	
  of	
  her	
  co-­‐wives.	
  On	
  her	
  way	
  she	
  notices	
  some	
  Shea	
  nuts	
  and	
  stops	
  to	
  collect	
  them,	
  but	
   in	
  doing	
   so	
  accidently	
   steps	
  onto	
  a	
   freshly	
  dug	
  grave	
  and	
   sinks	
  down,	
   into	
   the	
  earth	
  and	
  through	
  the	
  middle	
  of	
  the	
  body	
  of	
  a	
  decomposing	
  corpse.	
  For	
  Sarah,	
  this	
   is	
  an	
  instance	
   of	
   re-­‐perpetration	
   on	
   the	
   corpse;	
   an	
   act	
   of	
   re-­‐violation	
   that	
   she	
   will	
   be	
  punished	
  for	
  by	
  spiritual	
  retribution.	
  	
  	
  She	
  is	
  paralysed:	
  “I	
  pulled	
  out	
  my	
  legs	
  but	
  had	
  completely	
  nothing	
  else	
  to	
  do.	
  I	
  stood	
  there	
  still.	
  I	
  had	
  no	
  clue	
  at	
  all	
  on	
  what	
  else	
  I	
  could	
  do.	
  I	
  was	
  energy	
  less.	
  …	
  My	
  entire	
  legs	
  were	
  covered	
  in	
  pus	
  and	
  some	
  other	
  elements	
  of	
  decomposing	
  body.	
  There	
  was	
  no	
  water	
   close	
   by.”	
   She	
  worries	
   that	
   the	
   corpse	
  will	
   seek	
   revenge	
   on	
   her	
   for	
   her	
  transgression	
   and	
   begins	
   to	
   speak	
   to	
   it,	
   becoming	
   in	
   this	
   act	
   a	
   witness	
   to	
   the	
  violence	
  and	
  social	
  disrepair	
  wrought	
  by	
  war:	
  	
  You	
  person,	
  I	
  am	
  not	
  the	
  one	
  who	
  killed	
  you.	
  I	
  was	
  just	
  here	
  wandering	
  for	
  my	
  own	
  things	
  and	
  bumped	
   into	
  you.	
  Forgive	
  me,	
   I	
  am	
  not	
   the	
  one	
  who	
  killed	
  you.	
   I	
   found	
  you	
  buried	
   already.	
   I	
   do	
   not	
   know	
  what	
   happened	
   to	
   you	
   and	
   caused	
   your	
   death.	
  Forgive	
  me,	
  let	
  me	
  go	
  back	
  in	
  good	
  health.	
  Don’t	
  kill	
  me.	
  	
  Sarah’s	
   encounter	
   is	
   one	
   that	
   collapses	
   the	
   boundaries	
   between	
   life	
   and	
  death.	
   In	
  her	
  conversation	
  with	
  the	
  corpse,	
  Sarah,	
  already	
  ambiguously	
  close	
  to	
  a	
  position	
  as	
  a	
   socially	
   dead	
   person,	
   becomes	
   a	
   mediator	
   between	
   two	
   worlds,	
   and	
   is	
   able	
   to	
  communicate	
   to	
   the	
   dead	
   the	
   pain	
   of	
   the	
   living.	
   She	
   demonstrates	
   through	
   her	
  bodily	
   intrusion	
   into	
   the	
  sanctity	
  of	
  death	
  how	
  war	
   tears	
  apart	
   the	
  social	
   fabric	
  of	
  communities	
  and	
  how	
  violations	
  are	
  ceaseless	
  and	
  prosaic.	
  Furthermore,	
  this	
  act	
  of	
  accidental	
  violation	
  re-­‐establishes	
  the	
  local	
  as	
  a	
  place	
  of	
  suffering,	
  meaning,	
  and	
  loss.	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  53	
  Riaño-­‐Alcalá,	
  Emplaced	
  Witnessing,	
  p.	
  30	
   	
  	
  	
   25	
   In	
  an	
  attempt	
  to	
  remedy	
  her	
  intrusion,	
  Sarah	
  places	
  leaves	
  on	
  the	
  grave	
  in	
  an	
  effort	
  to	
  placate	
  the	
  corpse,	
  a	
  common	
  practice	
  in	
  her	
  culture	
  to	
  show	
  respect	
  to	
  the	
  dead.	
  She	
   consequently	
   recognises	
   the	
   anonymous	
   corpse,	
   providing	
   a	
   form	
   of	
  remembrance	
  and	
  atonement,	
  as	
  well	
  as	
  an	
  attempt	
  to	
  repair	
  the	
  damage	
  done.	
  This	
  contributes	
   to	
   notions	
   of	
   the	
   local	
   as	
   a	
   “site	
   of	
   social	
   repair	
   and	
   place	
   of	
  reconstruction”	
   that	
   connects	
   local	
  witnessing	
  practices	
   and	
  extraordinary	
  human	
  actions,	
  but	
  also,	
  the	
  local	
  as	
  a	
  place	
  where	
  destruction	
  and	
  social	
  disrepair	
  occur.54	
  This	
   incident	
   remains	
   part	
   of	
   an	
   unending	
   past	
   for	
   Sarah,	
  who	
   continues	
   to	
   bear	
  witness	
  to	
  the	
  incident	
  through	
  the	
  embodiment	
  of	
  cen,	
  “Whenever	
  I	
  hear	
  people	
  say	
  I	
  might	
  have	
  returned	
  with	
  cen,	
  my	
  mind	
  quickly	
  reflects	
  on	
  that	
  incident	
  and	
  I	
  am	
  like	
   ‘oh,	
   they	
  might	
   have	
   seen	
   that	
   dead	
   body’s	
   cen.	
  Maybe	
   they	
   see	
   the	
   person’s	
  image	
  in	
  me.”	
   Listening	
  to	
  Sarah	
  	
  Dori	
  Laub	
  and	
  Shoshana	
  Felman,	
  writing	
  about	
  Holocaust	
  testimonies,	
  describe	
  how	
  testimonies	
   are	
   social	
   processes	
   that	
   cannot	
   take	
   place	
   in	
   solitude	
   or	
   exist	
   as	
  monologues,	
  but	
  rather,	
  warn	
  that	
  “the	
  absence	
  of	
  an	
  empathetic	
   listener,	
  or	
  more	
  radically,	
  the	
  absence	
  of	
  an	
  addressable	
  other,	
  an	
  other	
  who	
  can	
  hear	
  the	
  anguish	
  of	
  one’s	
   memories	
   and	
   thus	
   affirm	
   and	
   recognise	
   their	
   realness,	
   annihilates	
   the	
  story.”55	
  Sarah	
  herself	
  acknowledges	
  this	
  relational	
  aspect	
  of	
  her	
  testimony:	
  “I	
  want	
  to	
  tell	
  you	
  about	
  my	
  life.”	
  She	
  addresses	
  the	
  reader,	
  the	
  witness,	
  and	
  demands	
  that	
  we	
  listen	
  to	
  the	
  story	
  of	
  her	
   life,	
   to	
  acknowledge	
  her	
  suffering	
  and	
  understand	
  the	
  violences	
  she	
  encounters	
  in	
  everyday	
  life.	
  How	
  then,	
  are	
  we	
  to	
  respond,	
  as	
  research	
  witnesses,	
  to	
  the	
  testimony	
  of	
  Sarah?	
  	
  	
  Clues	
  as	
  to	
  how	
  to	
  begin	
  to	
  bear	
  witness	
  to	
  the	
  testimony	
  of	
  Sarah	
  come	
  from	
  Antjie	
  Krog,	
   a	
   journalist	
   at	
   the	
   South	
   African	
   Truth	
   and	
   Reconciliation	
   Commission	
  who	
  wrote	
   about	
   her	
   experiences	
   covering	
   the	
   Commission.	
   In	
   one	
   part	
   of	
   her	
   book,	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  54	
  ibid.	
  	
  55	
  Laub	
  and	
  Felman,	
  Testimony:	
  Crisis	
  of	
  Witnessing,	
  p.	
  68	
  	
   	
  	
  	
   26	
   Country	
  of	
  My	
  Skull,	
  Krog	
  prefaces	
  a	
   chapter	
  with	
  a	
   transitional	
   lyric	
   in	
  her	
  prose,	
  but	
  writing	
   from	
  the	
  point	
  of	
  view	
  of	
  an	
   imagined	
  (presumably	
  black)	
  victim,	
   that	
  allows	
   her	
   to	
   move	
   from	
   a	
   journalistic	
   account	
   into	
   a	
   collection	
   of	
   unattributed	
  violent	
  accounts	
   from	
  survivor	
  witnesses	
   that	
   swirl	
  around	
  on	
   the	
  pages,	
   jumping	
  from	
  one	
  account	
  of	
  atrocity	
  to	
  the	
  next:	
  	
  	
  Beloved	
  do	
  not	
  die.	
  Do	
  not	
  dare	
  die!	
  I,	
  the	
  survivor,	
  I	
  wrap	
  you	
  in	
  words	
  so	
  that	
  the	
  future	
   inherits	
   you.	
   I	
   snatch	
   you	
   from	
   the	
  death	
   of	
   forgetfulness.	
   I	
   tell	
   your	
   story,	
  complete	
  your	
  ending	
  –	
  you	
  who	
  once	
  whispered	
  beside	
  me	
  in	
  the	
  dark.56	
  	
  This	
   raises	
   important	
   questions	
   about	
   the	
   range	
   of	
   witnessing	
   practices	
   and	
   the	
  degree	
   to	
  which	
  researchers	
  and	
  academics	
  constitute	
  witnesses.	
  By	
  assuming	
   the	
  voice	
  of	
  an	
  invisible	
  victim,	
  Krog	
  asserts	
  her	
  authority	
  into	
  the	
  narratives	
  that	
  follow	
  her	
   plea.	
   She	
   prefaces	
   the	
   pain	
   that	
   follows	
   with	
   her	
   own	
   imagined	
   pain,	
   which	
  demonstrates	
   a	
   level	
   of	
   empathetic	
   engagement	
   and	
   an	
   understanding	
   of	
   the	
  relational	
   structure	
   of	
   testimonies.	
   However,	
   strategies	
   such	
   as	
   these	
   can	
   come	
  under	
  attack	
  for	
  subsuming	
  the	
  real	
  pain	
  of	
  an	
  anonymous	
  victim	
  for	
  the	
  imagined	
  pain	
  of	
  a	
  privileged	
  researcher	
  that	
  trivialises	
  or	
  minimises	
  the	
  pain	
  of	
  the	
  victim.	
  	
  	
  Others	
   have	
   responded	
   to	
   the	
   socially	
   dead	
   witness	
   by	
   recognising	
   and	
   drawing	
  attention	
   to	
   local	
   practices	
   of	
   witnessing	
   that	
   defy	
   state-­‐centric	
   methods	
   of	
  remembrance,	
  truth	
  telling,	
  and	
  acknowledgement.	
  Riaño-­‐Alcalá,	
  discusses	
  how	
  the	
  local	
  is	
  a	
  “site	
  which	
  shelters	
  knowledges	
  of	
  the	
  past”	
  and	
  seeks	
  to	
  bring	
  attention	
  to	
  “practices	
   that	
   mobilize	
   alternative	
   and	
   plural	
   forms	
   of	
   testimony	
   through	
  storytelling,	
   performance,	
   and	
   the	
   remaking	
   of	
   everyday	
   life”.57	
   Dealing	
   with	
  witnessing	
  acts	
   that	
  are	
   located	
  within	
   the	
  daily	
   social	
   life	
  of	
  witness-­‐survivors	
   in	
  Colombia	
   like	
   physical	
   re-­‐occupation	
   of	
   sites	
   of	
   violence,	
   Riaño-­‐Alcalá	
   views	
   such	
  forms	
   of	
   witnessing	
   as	
   “embodied	
   and	
   emplaced	
   practices	
   	
   …	
   not	
   bound	
   by	
   the	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  56	
  Antjie	
  Krog,	
  (1998),	
  Country	
  of	
  My	
  Skull:	
  Guilt,	
  Sorrow	
  and	
  the	
  Limits	
  of	
  Forgiveness	
  in	
  the	
   New	
  South	
  Africa,	
  New	
  York:	
  Three	
  Rivers	
  Press,	
  p.	
  38	
  57	
  Riaño-­‐Alcalá,	
  Emplaced	
  Witnessing,	
  p.	
  3	
   	
  	
  	
   27	
   common	
  strategies	
  for	
  re-­‐representing	
  terror	
  in	
  academic	
  disciplines	
  and	
  in	
  official	
  truth-­‐telling	
   regimes	
   dominated	
   by	
   concerns	
   with	
   facts,	
   codification	
   and	
  universality.”58	
   Such	
   an	
   approach	
   is	
   instrumental	
   to	
   expanding	
   understandings	
   of	
  alternative	
  witnessing	
  forms	
  practiced	
  by	
  the	
  socially	
  dead.	
  	
  	
  Riaño-­‐Alcalá	
   writes	
   about	
   the	
   Bojayá	
   massacre	
   in	
   Colombia,	
   where	
   over	
   seventy	
  people	
  were	
  killed	
  in	
  an	
  explosives	
  attack	
  on	
  a	
  church,	
  paying	
  special	
  attention	
  the	
  witnessing	
  strategies	
  of	
  one	
  woman,	
  Miniela,	
  depicted	
  as	
   loca	
  de	
   la	
  cabeza	
   (crazy)	
  by	
  the	
  townspeople.	
  Miniela	
  stayed	
  behind	
  in	
  the	
  church	
  after	
  the	
  attack,	
  spending	
  the	
   rest	
   of	
   the	
   day	
   and	
   working	
   throughout	
   the	
   night	
   to	
   bring	
   water	
   to	
   injured	
  people	
  and	
  piecing	
  together	
  the	
  body	
  parts	
  of	
  those	
  who	
  had	
  been	
  blown	
  up.	
  When	
  those	
  who	
  had	
  fled	
  the	
  church	
  returned	
  in	
  the	
  morning,	
  Miniela	
  testified	
  that	
  “This	
  is	
   all	
   they	
   have	
   left	
   us	
   with”.59	
   By	
   situating	
   herself	
   within	
   the	
   space	
   of	
   a	
   site	
   of	
  extreme	
  violence,	
  and	
  by	
  reconstructing	
  and	
  making	
  whole	
  the	
  bodies	
  of	
  those	
  torn	
  asunder	
   by	
   the	
   explosion,	
   Miniela	
   “provided	
   a	
   partial	
   bridge	
   for	
   repairing	
   the	
  broken	
  connections	
  between	
  the	
  living	
  and	
  the	
  dead.”60	
  	
  	
  As	
  Riaño-­‐Alcalá	
  explains,	
  Minela’s	
  embodied	
  actions	
  would	
  not	
  be	
  able	
  to	
  be	
  used	
  as	
  evidence	
   in	
   a	
   trial,	
   but	
   are	
   forms	
   of	
  witnessing	
   and	
   acknowledgement	
   that	
   create	
  meaningful	
   ties	
   between	
   the	
   community	
   and	
   their	
   violent	
   past.	
   By	
   reconstructing	
  the	
   bodies,	
   Miniela	
   gives	
   the	
   community	
   the	
   basis	
   on	
   which	
   to	
   remember	
   the	
  massacre	
  and	
  humanise	
  the	
  victims.	
  Her	
  identity	
  within	
  the	
  community	
  as	
  a	
  ‘crazy’	
  woman	
  enables	
  her	
  to	
  embody	
  a	
  space	
  between	
  two	
  zones:	
  living	
  and	
  death,	
  and	
  act	
  as	
  a	
  bridge	
  between	
  the	
  community	
  and	
  its	
  dead.	
  I	
  argue	
  that,	
   like	
  Miniela,	
  Sarah’s	
  narrative,	
  although	
  a	
  written	
  document,	
  illustrates	
  within	
  the	
  text	
  forms	
  of	
  localised	
  embodied	
  witnessing	
   that	
   draw	
   attention	
   to	
   the	
  way	
   in	
  which	
  multiple	
   violences	
  overlap	
  to	
  profoundly	
  impact	
  upon	
  the	
  daily	
  lived	
  experience	
  of	
  the	
  socially	
  dead	
  in	
  conflict	
  zones.	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  58	
  ibid.	
  	
  59	
  ibid.,	
  p.	
  26	
  60	
  ibid.	
  	
   	
  	
  	
   28	
   	
  Another	
   means	
   to	
   be	
   an	
   attentive	
   secondary	
   witness,	
   is	
   suggested	
   by	
   Dominick	
  LaCapra	
  who	
   implores	
  us	
   to	
   exercise	
   “empathetic	
  unsettlement”	
   as	
   a	
   complement	
  and	
  supplement	
  to	
  empirical	
  research	
  or	
  analysis,	
  which	
  “may	
  (I	
  think,	
  should)	
  have	
  stylistic	
   effects	
   in	
   the	
   way	
   one	
   discusses	
   or	
   addresses	
   certain	
   problems.”61	
   This	
  approach	
   encourages	
   an	
   emotional	
   response	
   from	
   the	
   testimonies	
   that	
   does	
   not	
  displace	
   the	
   voice	
   of	
   the	
   victim,	
   but	
   rather	
   listens	
   attentively	
   to	
   the	
   account	
   of	
  violence	
  and	
  seeks	
  to	
  respond	
  with	
  feeling.	
  Such	
  an	
  approach	
  does	
  not	
  replace	
  the	
  initial	
   testimony	
   or	
   subsume	
   the	
   victim’s	
   voice,	
   but	
   rather	
   recognises	
   that	
  testimonies,	
   like	
   that	
   of	
   Sarah,	
   “brings	
   about	
   dissociation	
   of	
   affect	
   and	
  representation:	
  one	
  disorientingly	
  feels	
  what	
  one	
  cannot	
  represent;	
  one	
  numbingly	
  represents	
  what	
  one	
  cannot	
  feel.”62	
  	
  Empathetic	
   engagement	
   is	
  most	
   necessary	
   for	
   the	
  parts	
   of	
   Sarah’s	
   story	
   that	
   defy	
  understanding	
   and	
   implore	
   the	
   listener	
   to	
   seek	
  meaning	
   for	
   the	
   suffering.	
   Sarah’s	
  episode	
   with	
   guinea	
   worms	
   is	
   one	
   such	
   incident.	
   The	
   violence	
   of	
   disease	
   is	
   a	
  seemingly	
  depoliticised	
  violence	
  that	
  lacks	
  an	
  easily	
  identifiable	
  human	
  cause.	
  This	
  is	
   of	
   course	
   an	
   illusion,	
   as	
   the	
   structural	
   violence	
   that	
   shapes	
   Sarah’s	
   life	
   places	
  Sarah	
  in	
  a	
  space	
  peripheral	
  to	
  global	
  efforts	
  to	
  eradicate	
  guinea	
  worms.	
  In	
  order	
  to	
  understand	
   her	
   pain	
   it	
   is	
   appropriate	
   to	
   return	
   to	
   the	
   insights	
   of	
   Elaine	
   Scarry.	
  Scarry	
  suggests	
   that	
  a	
  way	
  to	
  express	
   the	
  pain	
  that	
  shatters	
   language	
   is	
   to	
  bestow	
  upon	
   it	
   a	
   name,	
   “to	
   reverse	
   the	
   de-­‐objectifying	
  work	
   of	
   pain	
   by	
   forcing	
  pain	
   itself	
  into	
   avenues	
  of	
   objectification”.63	
  One	
  way	
  of	
   depicting	
  pain	
   as	
   an	
   event	
   that	
   falls	
  outside	
  of	
  the	
  realm	
  of	
  perpetrator-­‐led	
  violence	
  is	
  through	
  a	
  creative	
  representation	
  of	
  suffering	
  that	
  allows	
  injustice	
  to	
  become	
  embodied.	
  	
  	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  61Dominick,	
  LaCapra,	
  (2001),	
  Writing	
  History,	
  Writing	
  Trauma,	
  Baltimore:	
  John	
  Hopkins	
  University	
  Press,	
  p.	
  41	
  62	
  ibid.,	
  p.	
  42	
  63	
  Scarry,	
  p.	
  6	
   	
  	
  	
   29	
   An	
  example	
  of	
  such	
  an	
  approach	
  is	
  the	
  work	
  of	
  Juliane	
  Okot	
  Bitek,	
  a	
  Canada-­‐based	
  creative	
   writer	
   originally	
   from	
   Uganda	
   has	
   turned	
   the	
   testimony	
   of	
   Sarah	
   into	
   a	
  number	
  of	
  short	
  creative	
  pieces.	
  Julie’s	
  reimagining	
  of	
  Sarah’s	
  testimony	
  is	
  an	
  act	
  of	
  witnessing	
  that	
  attempts	
  to	
  draw	
  out	
  and	
  respond	
  to	
  the	
  pain	
  hidden	
  amongst	
  the	
  stilted	
   lines	
   of	
   Sarah’s	
   narrative.	
   This	
   is	
   a	
   creative	
   act	
   of	
  witnessing	
   that	
   seeks	
   to	
  build	
  a	
  bridge	
  between	
  unimaginable	
  suffering	
  and	
  possibilities	
  of	
  engagement.	
  On	
  Sarah’s	
  episode	
  with	
  guinea	
  worms,	
  Bitek	
  uses	
  the	
   image	
  of	
   the	
  guinea	
  worm	
  as	
  a	
  representation	
   of	
   the	
   social	
   violence	
   Sarah	
   and	
   her	
   brothers	
   suffer	
   that	
   has	
   been	
  compounded	
   by	
   their	
   abandonment	
   by	
   their	
   parents.	
   She	
   also	
   demonstrates	
   the	
  embodied	
  way	
  in	
  which	
  Sarah	
  witnesses;	
  how	
  her	
  testimony	
  of	
  suffering	
  is	
  written	
  on	
  her	
  body:	
  	
  	
   The	
  guinea	
  worm	
  drags	
  herself	
  over	
  the	
  threshold	
  and	
  into	
  a	
  dark	
  hut	
  where	
  there’s	
  a	
  broken	
  bit	
  of	
  pot,	
  an	
  old	
  wooden	
  mingling	
  stick	
  and	
  a	
  single	
  metal	
  plate	
  with	
  the	
  rooster	
  design	
  on	
  it	
  almost	
  completely	
  faded	
  away.	
  No	
  salt.	
  Not	
  even	
  kado	
  atwona,	
  the	
   traditional	
   salt	
   made	
   from	
   the	
   ash	
   of	
   pigeon	
   peas.	
   No	
   cups,	
   no	
   pots,	
   no	
  saucepans,	
  no	
  bedding,	
  no	
  clothes	
  hanging	
  to	
  dry	
  outside.	
  There’s	
  no	
  plate-­‐covered	
  pot	
   waiting	
   for	
   hungry	
   children	
   to	
   discover	
   after	
   school	
   with	
   nibbles	
   of	
   roasted	
  meat,	
  perhaps,	
  or	
  roasted	
  potato,	
  or	
  even	
  remainders	
  of	
  last	
  night’s	
  dinner.	
  There’s	
  nothing	
   there	
  but	
  a	
  handful	
  of	
  otigo	
   lweka,	
   lady	
   finger	
  okra	
  waiting	
   for	
   that	
  water	
  from	
  the	
  well	
  to	
  steam	
  it,	
  dark	
  and	
  saltless	
  for	
  dinner.	
  And	
  nothing	
  to	
  go	
  with	
  it	
  –	
  no	
  rice,	
  no	
  kwon,	
  no	
  potatoes,	
  no	
  bread	
  of	
  any	
  kind	
  –	
   just	
  otigo	
   lweka	
   in	
   its	
  sliminess	
  running	
   through	
   the	
   fingers	
   of	
   the	
   children	
  when	
   they	
   do	
   sit	
   down	
   to	
   eat.	
   So	
   the	
  guinea	
  worm	
  moves	
  in	
  with	
  her	
  family	
  and	
  make	
  the	
  children’s	
  bodies	
  her	
  home.64	
  	
  The	
  guinea	
  worm	
  is	
  only	
  able	
  to	
  access	
  the	
  compound	
  and	
  violate	
  the	
  bodies	
  of	
  the	
  children	
  because	
  of	
   the	
  absence	
  of	
   social	
  networks	
   to	
  protect	
   the	
  children.	
  At	
  one	
  point	
  in	
  the	
  story,	
  the	
  guinea	
  worm	
  follows	
  the	
  children	
  home	
  from	
  the	
  river,	
  asking	
  them	
  persistently	
  why	
  their	
  parents	
  abandoned	
  them	
  until	
  they	
  become	
  unnerved:	
  “She	
   makes	
   her	
   way	
   to	
   their	
   homestead,	
   at	
   the	
   heels	
   of	
   the	
   children.	
   Kwarara!	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  64	
  Julie	
  Okot	
  Bitek,	
  ‘What	
  Jah	
  Bless’,	
  forthcoming	
   	
  	
  	
   30	
   Kwarara!	
  Kwarara!	
   She	
  drags	
  herself	
  by	
   the	
  belly	
   after	
   the	
   children	
  …	
  The	
  guinea	
  worm	
  will	
  not	
  turn	
  back…”65	
  In	
  this	
  creative	
  piece	
  the	
  guinea	
  worm	
  is	
  an	
  ominous	
  representation	
   of	
   the	
   persistence	
   of	
   unnecessary	
   suffering	
   in	
   the	
   poor	
   and	
  marginalised.	
   The	
   story	
   testifies	
   to	
   the	
   plight	
   of	
   the	
   children	
   in	
   a	
   way	
   that	
   does	
  justice	
   to	
   Sarah’s	
   narrative	
   by	
   objectifying	
   pain	
   and	
   giving	
   it	
   agency	
   in	
   the	
   bodily	
  destruction	
  of	
  the	
  children.	
  	
  	
  Sarah’s	
  life	
  is	
  one	
  of	
  such	
  extreme	
  suffering	
  and	
  marginalisation	
  that	
  it	
  is	
  impossible	
  for	
   witnesses	
   of	
   her	
   testimony	
   to	
   attempt	
   to	
   situate	
   themselves	
   within	
   Sarah’s	
  world.	
   The	
   betrayals	
   are	
   so	
   multiple	
   and	
   fused	
   that	
   any	
   attempt	
   to	
   single	
   out	
  perpetrators	
   is	
   a	
   meaningless	
   and	
   ultimately	
   unrewarding	
   enterprise	
   as	
   the	
  oppressors	
  of	
  Sarah	
  are	
   themselves	
  often	
  victim	
  to	
  a	
  cruel	
  social	
  order.	
   Justice	
   for	
  Sarah	
   then	
   is	
   not	
   about	
  naming	
   and	
  persecuting	
   those	
   individuals	
   responsible	
   for	
  her	
  physical	
  or	
  psychological	
  pain,	
  but	
  rather,	
  justice	
  begins	
  with	
  a	
  primary	
  effort	
  to	
  listen	
  attentively	
  and	
  empathetically	
   to	
   the	
   stories	
  Sarah	
   tells	
  us,	
   to	
   recognise	
  her	
  voice,	
  and	
  then	
  to	
  respond.	
  	
  	
  	
   Conclusions	
  	
  This	
   thesis	
   had	
   two	
   primary	
   goals.	
   The	
   first	
   was	
   to	
   refute	
   claims	
   that	
   survivor-­‐witnesses	
   are	
   not	
   able	
   to	
   speak	
   or	
   represent	
   their	
   experiences.	
   Through	
   an	
  interpretation	
  of	
  Sarah’s	
  stories	
   I	
  demonstrated	
  how	
  Sarah’s	
  social	
  death	
  does	
  not	
  mute	
  her,	
  but	
  rather	
  explored	
  how	
  her	
  embodied	
  form	
  of	
  witnessing	
  attests	
  to	
  the	
  multiple	
  and	
  varied	
  violences	
  she	
  encounters	
  in	
  her	
  daily-­‐life.	
  Sarah’s	
  experiences	
  -­‐	
  originally	
   recorded	
   through	
   oral	
   interviews	
   and	
   then	
   transcribed	
   and	
   translated	
  into	
  a	
  written	
  document,	
  reveal	
  how	
  Sarah	
  navigates	
  through	
  her	
  violent	
  world	
  and	
  highlights	
   the	
   continuous	
   and	
   intimate	
   suffering	
   that	
   plague	
   the	
   global	
   poor	
   in	
  conflict	
  zones.	
  Her	
  testimony	
  is	
  an	
  attempt	
  to	
  find	
  meaning	
  behind	
  the	
  violences	
  she	
  encounters	
  and	
  is	
  a	
  stark	
  story	
  of	
  poverty,	
  pain,	
  desolation	
  and	
  survival.	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  65	
  ibid.	
  	
   	
  	
  	
   31	
   	
  The	
  second	
  goal	
  of	
  this	
  paper	
  was	
  to	
  suggest	
  ways	
  in	
  which	
  to	
  respond	
  to	
  a	
  text	
  of	
  abjection	
   in	
   a	
   way	
   that	
   infuses	
   an	
   empathetic	
   approach	
   with	
   creativity	
   and	
  imagination.	
  I	
  suggested	
  that	
  an	
  imaginative	
  and	
  creative	
  approach	
  was	
  necessary	
  in	
  order	
   to	
   begin	
   to	
   listen	
   attentively	
   to	
   the	
   pain	
   unfolding	
   in	
   a	
   sparse	
   textual	
  document.	
   LaCapra’s	
   notion	
   of	
   ‘empathetic	
   engagement’	
   as	
   an	
   approach	
   that	
  blended	
  emotional	
  responses	
  with	
  creative	
  attempts	
  to	
  understand	
  Sarah’s	
  pain	
  was	
  discussed	
  as	
  a	
  possible	
  means	
  through	
  which	
  to	
  begin	
  to	
  respond	
  to	
  Sarah’s	
  story.	
  I	
  discussed	
  existing	
  methods	
   that	
  are	
  being	
  used	
   to	
  give	
  meaning	
   to	
   the	
  pain	
   in	
   the	
  text,	
  such	
  as	
  Juliane	
  Okot	
  Bitek’s	
  creative	
  writing	
  reinterpretations	
  of	
  Sarah’s	
  stories	
  that	
   do	
   not	
  misappropriate	
   her	
   pain,	
   but	
   seek	
   to	
   use	
   imagination	
   and	
   imagery	
   to	
  further	
  make	
  sense	
  of	
  an	
  ‘incomprehensible	
  past’.	
  	
  	
  My	
   conclusions	
   sought	
   to	
   address	
   an	
   overarching	
   assumption	
   of	
   speechlessness	
  within	
  transitional	
  justice	
  discourses	
  on	
  the	
  socially	
  dead	
  or	
  marginalised	
  survivor-­‐witnesses	
  of	
   atrocity	
   and	
  war.	
  Tackling	
  a	
   small	
   subset	
  of	
   the	
  debate	
  within	
   larger	
  arguments	
  on	
  witnessing	
  that	
  have	
  absorbed	
  proponents	
  of	
  transitional	
  justice,	
  this	
  thesis	
  spoke	
  against	
  a	
  dominant	
  assumption	
  that	
  pain	
  or	
  trauma	
  rendered	
  a	
  witness	
  mute.	
  By	
  listening	
  with	
  compassion	
  and	
  empathy,	
  and	
  recognising	
  alternative	
  forms	
  of	
   witnessing,	
   Sarah’s	
   suffering	
   is	
   rendered	
   comprehensible	
   and	
   her	
   experiences	
  demand	
   a	
  meaningful	
   response.	
   She	
   is	
   not	
  mute,	
   but	
   rather	
   imparts	
   some	
   deeply	
  alarming	
   messages	
   to	
   transitional	
   justice	
   practitioners	
   on	
   the	
   nature	
   of	
   violence	
  affecting	
   the	
   socially	
   dead.	
   The	
   methods	
   suggested	
   in	
   this	
   thesis	
   –	
   creative	
   and	
  empathetic	
  listening	
  –	
  combined	
  with	
  a	
  greater	
  understanding	
  of	
  alternative	
  forms	
  of	
   witnessing,	
   like	
   embodiment,	
   offer	
   a	
   substantial	
   contribution	
   to	
   the	
   ways	
   in	
  which	
   survivor-­‐witness	
   testimonies	
   are	
   collected,	
   understood,	
   and	
   responded	
   to,	
  within	
  the	
  field	
  of	
  transitional	
  justice.	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  To	
   conclude	
   then,	
   I	
   argue	
   that	
   the	
   stories	
   of	
   socially	
   dead	
   survivors	
   like	
   Sarah	
  deserve	
   greater	
   recognition	
   in	
   academic	
  discourses.	
  Assuming	
   that	
   experiences	
  of	
   	
  	
  	
   32	
   intense	
   and	
   overlapping	
   violences	
   will	
   silence	
   survivors	
   is	
   an	
   exaggerated	
  assumption	
  that	
  Sarah’s	
  testimony	
  resoundingly	
  disproves.	
  It	
  is	
  important	
  to	
  listen	
  to	
   stories	
   of	
   marginalised	
   people	
   in	
   conflict	
   zones	
   because	
   their	
   insights	
   and	
  experiences	
  speak	
  to	
  a	
   tremendous	
  global	
   failure	
   to	
  attend	
  to	
   the	
  pain	
  of	
  society’s	
  most	
  vulnerable.	
  It	
  is	
  hoped	
  that,	
  despite	
  difficulties	
  in	
  making	
  sense	
  of	
  the	
  suffering	
  inscribed	
   within	
   testimonies,	
   a	
   creative	
   and	
   imaginative	
   approach,	
   like	
   those	
  outlined	
  in	
  this	
  paper,	
  offer	
  an	
  initial	
  first	
  step	
  towards	
  recognising	
  and	
  responding	
  to	
   the	
   outrages	
   contained	
  within	
   Sarah’s	
   text.	
   To	
   end,	
   it	
   is	
   appropriate	
   to	
   turn	
   to	
  Sarah	
  for	
  her	
  final	
  reflection	
  on	
  her	
  life:	
  	
   “I	
  have	
   talked	
  about	
  what	
  happened,	
   the	
   things	
   I	
  could	
  not	
  hide	
   from	
  anyone.	
   It	
   is	
  like	
  when	
  our	
  stay	
  in	
  the	
  bush	
  becomes	
  known	
  to	
  people,	
   it	
  can’t	
  be	
  erased	
  either.	
  […]	
  All	
  in	
  all	
  I	
  persevered.”	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
   	
  	
  	
   33	
   	
   Bibliography	
  	
  	
  Agamben,	
  Giorgio,	
  (2002),	
  Remnants	
  of	
  Auschwitz:	
  The	
  Witness	
  and	
  the	
  Archive,	
  New	
  York:	
  Zone	
  Books	
  	
  Agger.	
  Inger,	
  and	
  Jensen,	
  Søren	
  Buus,	
  ‘Testimony	
  as	
  Ritual	
  and	
  Evidence	
  in	
  Psychotherapy	
  for	
  Political	
  Refugees’,	
  Journal	
  of	
  Traumatic	
  Stress,	
  Vol.	
  3,	
  No.	
  1	
  	
  Baines,	
  Erin,	
  ‘The	
  Saved:	
  Responsibility	
  and	
  Militarized	
  Masculinity	
  in	
  the	
  Lord’s	
  Resistance	
  Army’,	
  forthcoming	
   	
  Baines,	
  Erin,	
  (2010),	
  ‘Spirits	
  and	
  Social	
  Reconstruction	
  After	
  Mass	
  Violence:	
  Rethinking	
  Transitional	
  Justice”,	
  in	
  African	
  Affairs,	
  Vol.	
  109,	
  Iss.	
  436	
  	
  Baines,	
  Baines,	
  and	
  Riaño	
  Alcalá,	
  Pilar,	
  ‘The	
  Archive	
  in	
  the	
  Witness:	
  Documentation	
  in	
  Settings	
  of	
  Chronic	
  Insecurity’,	
  forthcoming	
   	
  Branch,	
  Adam,	
  (2007),	
  ‘Uganda’s	
  Civil	
  War	
  and	
  the	
  Politics	
  of	
  Intervention’,	
  Ethics	
   and	
  International	
  Affairs,	
  Vol.	
  21,	
  No.	
  2	
  	
  Branch,	
  Adam,	
  (2010),	
  ‘Exploring	
  the	
  roots	
  of	
  LRA	
  violence:	
  political	
  crisis	
  and	
  ethnic	
  politics	
  in	
  Acholiland’,	
  in	
  Tim	
  Allen	
  and	
  Koen	
  Vlassenroot	
  (eds.),	
  The	
  Lord’s	
   Resistance	
  Army:	
  Myth	
  and	
  Reality,	
  London:	
  Zed	
  Books	
  	
  Coulter,	
  Chris,	
  (2008),	
  ‘Female	
  Fighters	
  in	
  the	
  Sierra	
  Leone	
  War:	
  Challenging	
  the	
  Assumptions?”,	
  Feminist	
  Review,	
  No.	
  88	
  	
  Dolan,	
  Chris,	
  (2009),	
  Social	
  Torture:	
  The	
  Case	
  of	
  Northern	
  Uganda	
  1986-­2006,	
  New	
  York:	
  Berghahn	
  Books	
  	
  Felman,	
  Shoshana,	
  (2002),	
  The	
  Juridical	
  Unconscious:	
  Trials	
  and	
  Traumas	
  in	
  the	
   Twentieth	
  Century,	
  Boston:	
  Harvard	
  University	
  Press	
  	
  Finnström,	
  Sverker,	
  (2008),	
  Living	
  with	
  Bad	
  Surroundings:	
  War,	
  History	
  and	
   Everyday	
  Moments	
  in	
  Northern	
  Uganda,	
  Durham:	
  Duke	
  University	
  Press	
  	
  Henry,	
  Nicola,	
  (2010),	
  ‘The	
  Impossibility	
  of	
  Bearing	
  Witness:	
  Wartime	
  Rape	
  and	
  the	
  Promise	
  of	
  Justice’,	
  Violence	
  Against	
  Women,	
  Vol.	
  16,	
  No.	
  10	
  	
  Hirsch,	
  Marianne	
  and	
  Spitzer,	
  Leo,	
  (2009),	
  ‘The	
  Witness	
  in	
  the	
  Archive:	
  Holocaust	
  Studies/Memory	
  Studies’,	
  Memory	
  Studies,	
  Vol.	
  2,	
  No.	
  2	
   	
  	
  	
   34	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  Kleinman,	
  Arthur,	
  (2000),	
  ‘The	
  Violences	
  of	
  Everyday	
  Life:	
  The	
  Multiple	
  Forms	
  and	
  Dynamics	
  of	
  Social	
  Violence’,	
  in	
  Veena	
  Das,	
  Arthur	
  Kleinman,	
  Mamphela	
  Ramphele,	
  and	
  Pamela	
  Reynolds,	
  (eds.)	
  Violence	
  and	
  Subjectivity,	
  Berkeley:	
  University	
  of	
  California	
  Press	
  	
  	
  Krog,	
  Antjie.	
  (1998),	
  Country	
  of	
  My	
  Skull:	
  Guilt,	
  Sorrow	
  and	
  the	
  Limits	
  of	
  Forgiveness	
   in	
  the	
  New	
  South	
  Africa,	
  New	
  York:	
  Three	
  Rivers	
  Press	
  	
  LaCapra,	
  Dominick,	
  (2001),	
  Writing	
  History,	
  Writing	
  Trauma,	
  Baltimore:	
  John	
  Hopkins	
  University	
  Press	
  	
  Laub,	
  Dori,	
  (2005),	
  ‘From	
  Speechlessness	
  to	
  Narrative:	
  The	
  Cases	
  of	
  Holocaust	
  Historians	
  and	
  of	
  Psychiatrically	
  Hospitalised	
  Survivors’,	
  Literature	
  and	
  Medicine,	
  Vol.	
  24,	
  No.	
  2	
  	
  	
  	
  Laub,	
  Dori,	
  and	
  Felman,	
  Shoshana,	
  (1992),	
  Testimony:	
  Crises	
  of	
  Witnessing	
  in	
   Literature,	
  Psychoanalysis,	
  and	
  History,	
  New	
  York:	
  Routledge	
  	
  Levi,	
  Primo,	
  (1961),	
  Survival	
  in	
  Auschwitz,	
  London:	
  Collier	
  Macmillan	
  Publishers	
  	
  Levi,	
  Primo,	
  (1988),	
  The	
  Drowned	
  and	
  the	
  Saved,	
  New	
  York:	
  Vintage	
  International	
  	
  Okot	
  Bitek,	
  Juliane,	
  ‘What	
  Jah	
  Bless’,	
  forthcoming	
  	
  Riaño-­‐Alcalá,	
  Pilar,	
  ‘Emplaced	
  Witnessing:	
  Sites	
  of	
  Enquiry	
  and	
  Commemoration	
  in	
  Conflict	
  Zones’,	
  Forthcoming	
  	
  Ross,	
  Fiona,	
  (2003),	
  ‘On	
  Having	
  a	
  Voice	
  and	
  Being	
  Heard:	
  Some	
  After-­‐Effects	
  of	
  Testifying	
  Before	
  the	
  South	
  African	
  Truth	
  and	
  Reconciliation	
  Commission’,	
   Anthropological	
  Theory,	
  Vol.	
  3	
  	
  Rwakimari,	
  John	
  B.;	
  Hopkins,	
  Donald	
  R.;	
  and	
  Ruiz-­‐Tiben,	
  Ernesto,	
  (2006),	
  ‘Uganda’s	
  Successful	
  Guinea	
  Worms	
  Eradication	
  Program’,	
  The	
  American	
  Journal	
  of	
  Tropical	
   Medicine	
  and	
  Hygiene,	
  Vol.	
  75,	
  No.	
  1	
  	
  	
  Scarry,	
  Elaine,	
  (1985),	
  Body	
  in	
  Pain:	
  The	
  Making	
  and	
  Unmaking	
  of	
  the	
  World,	
  New	
  York:	
  Oxford	
  University	
  Press	
  	
  Scheper-­‐Hughes,	
  Nancy,	
  (1993),	
  Death	
  Without	
  Weeping:	
  The	
  Violence	
  of	
  Everyday	
   Life	
  in	
  Brazil,	
  Berkeley:	
  University	
  of	
  California	
  Press	
  	
   	
  	
  	
   35	
   Scheper-­‐Hughes,	
  Nancy,	
  (2008),	
  ‘A	
  Talent	
  for	
  Life:	
  Reflections	
  on	
  Human	
  Vulnerability	
  and	
  Resilience’,	
  Ethnos,	
  Vol.	
  71,	
  No.	
  1	
  	
  Strejilevich,	
  Nora,	
  (2006),	
  ‘Testimony:	
  Beyond	
  the	
  Language	
  of	
  Truth’,	
  Human	
  Rights	
   Quarterly,	
  Vol	
  28,	
  No.	
  3	
  	
  Theidon,	
  Kimberly,	
  (2006),	
  ‘Justice	
  in	
  Transition:	
  The	
  Micro-­‐politics	
  of	
  Reconciliation	
  in	
  Postwar	
  Peru’,	
  Journal	
  of	
  Conflict	
  Resolution,	
  Vol.	
  50	
  	
  Titeca,	
  Kristof,	
  (2010),	
  ‘The	
  Spiritual	
  Order	
  of	
  the	
  LRA’	
  in	
  Tim	
  Allen	
  and	
  Koen	
  Vlassenroot	
  (eds.)	
  The	
  Lord’s	
  Resistance	
  Army:	
  Myth	
  and	
  Reality,	
  London:	
  Zed	
  Books	
  	
  Vigh,	
  Henrik	
  E.,	
  (2006),	
  ‘Social	
  Death	
  and	
  Violent	
  Life	
  Chances’,	
  in	
  Catrine	
  Christiansen,	
  Mats	
  Utas,	
  Henrik	
  Vigh	
  (eds.),	
  Navigating	
  Youth,	
  Generating	
  Adulthood:	
   Social	
  Becoming	
  in	
  an	
  African	
  Context,	
  Uppsala:	
  Nordiska	
  Afrikainstitutet	
  	
  Wieviorka,	
  Annette,	
  (2006),	
  The	
  Era	
  of	
  the	
  Witness,	
  Ithaca:	
  Cornell	
  University	
  Press	
  	
  

Cite

Citation Scheme:

        

Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics

Share

Embed

Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                        
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            src="{[{embed.src}]}"
                            data-item="{[{embed.item}]}"
                            data-collection="{[{embed.collection}]}"
                            data-metadata="{[{embed.showMetadata}]}"
                            data-width="{[{embed.width}]}"
                            async >
                            </script>
                            </div>
                        
                    
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:
https://iiif.library.ubc.ca/presentation/dsp.24.1-0072216/manifest

Comment

Related Items