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Trauma and transitional justice in Guatemala : how conceptions of trauma inform transitional justice practices John, Gabrielle

Abstract

The concept of trauma has been playing an increasing role in contemporary culture and politics, and more nuanced understandings of this concept have begun to slowly influence conversations around identity and historical memory in the transitional justice literature. This thesis explores psychobiological, historical and cultural/social forms of trauma, considering the relationship between these forms of trauma and mainstay transitional justice mechanisms. It examines the differences that emerge in how civil society and government actors in Guatemala understand the concept of trauma and the bearing this has on the transitional justice mechanisms they view as necessary to address the country’s violent past. This data was gathered via eight semi-structured interviews in Guatemala with four members of civil society and four government actors and a critical narrative analysis was used to uncover the connections between participant conceptions of trauma and views of transitional justice mechanisms implemented throughout the country. Specifically, this thesis asks how participants understand trauma and to what extent this understanding informs their views of transitional justice in Guatemala. It identifies key differences between civil society and government conceptions of trauma and the way in which these conceptions inform their approaches to transitional justice. These differences serve to highlight the importance of actively including civil society in the design and implementation of transitional justice mechanisms.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada

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