UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Restoring a life on the margins. How my grandfather’s diaries from his time in solitary confinement have been used in pursuit of post-mortem justice, and why Iceland has more to reckon with than just our tarnished name Brynjarsson, Tryggvi Rúnar


This M.A. thesis examines the ongoing state-directed initiative to achieve a posthumous exoneration for my grandfather, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, who in 1975 was wrongfully accused, and later convicted, of involvement in the disappearance of one Guðmundur Einarsson. Diaries he wrote during his exceptionally long detention in solitary confinement before his conviction anchor the essay. I discuss how these texts were received by the Icelandic public after my grandfather’s death in 2009—they came out two years later—and how forensic psychologists and legal professionals have used them to access the diarist’s (innocent) persona. I also provide my own introduction of their contents. The original prosecution against my grandfather in the 1970s built on no hard evidence; neither body nor murder weapon ever materialized, most remarkably. Crucial to achieving a guilty verdict was a prejudiced assessment of his (criminal) character. My essay highlights how portions of that same assessment have been repurposed in the current-day pursuit of his exoneration. As a national scandal is made and remade, I take a stand with my namesake against the violent deformities inflicted by plastic psychology.

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