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Long Road Home: Building Reconciliation and Trust in Post-War Sierra Leone

Stovel, Laura
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) Dissertation submitted for the Degree of Doctor Of Philosophy, Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Simon Fraser University.

This research explores the multiple meanings of reconciliation after mass atrocity, the roles of transitional institutions in promoting reconciliation, and barriers to deep reconciliation. Based on field research in Sierra Leone, including observations of Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings, I argue that conciliatory processes fall into two groups: those that must be evaluated on rational grounds and can be measured (described as ‘coming together’ or ‘coming to agreement) and those that can only be felt (described as ‘trust’, ‘healing’, and ‘coming to terms’ with the past). Institutional efforts to promote reconciliation strive for measurable outcomes that are too often taken as proxies for deeper, sentient forms of reconciliation. With few organized processes besides the truth commission to promote dialogue about the past, Sierra Leoneans often turn to religion or their own informal trust-building strategies to fill the gaps.(Excerpt)


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