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Empowerment through Living Memory: A community-centred model for memorialisation.

Naidu, Ereshnee
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) South Africa: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Memory plays various but often significant roles within transitional justice societies. Since memory within a transitional justice society is often a social construct that is mediated between the state and the individuals within that state, memory may take the form of selective amnesia where the state influences collective memory formation. Within this context human rights violations and the atrocities of the past are often ‘forgotten’ in an attempt to forge immediate reconciliation. However, various studies have shown that such processes tend to hinder reconciliation as well as fuel underlying tensions within a transitional society.

However, if used constructively, memory and memorialisation processes can play a significant role in the reconciliation process as it allows for the recognition of individual victims and survivors of the conflict; allows different generations to understand the conflict and mediate between the past and the present; and allows the society collective spaces for mourning that can promote the process of healing past wounds. In view of the peace-building capacity of memory work and its potential to empower communities by forging reconciliation, CSVR embarked on a community-centred intervention project.

The following report outlines the five phases of the process that focused on a community centred approach to memorialisation. This report aims to give practitioners working within the field of memorialisation a detailed understanding of the process that was undertaken in the different phases of the project so as to enable practitioners and communities themselves to initiate their own memory projects.

The first part of the report, will describe the information-gathering phase, and will outline the methodology, findings and some of the recommendations of the community needs assessment that was conducted in the Vaal. The second part of the report, will describe the actual intervention phase. The intervention focussed on training members of the Khulumani Support group – the training focussed both on conceptual issues around memory as well as basic project development with a specific focus on memory work. The second part of this report will also include a description of the design of the training manual,1 the selection of participants, the facilitated workshops that culminated in the conceptualisation of a memory project by the group; and finally, the evaluation phase.(excerpt)


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