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Victims, trauma, testimony

Walklate, Sandra
June 4, 2015

Source: (2013) Nottingham Law Journal. 22:77-89.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the interconnections between the rising policy
concern with the victim (of crime) on the one hand and the social recognition of
trauma on the other. In so doing the paper will address three interconnected themes.
In the first instance it will map some aspects of the changing contours of victimhood
over the last fifty years. This section of the paper will be particularly concerned to
address the changing nature of claims to victim status: who can and who cannot
legitimately claim the label victim. The second part of the paper will overlay this map
with an appreciation of the changing nature of the concept of trauma: who can and
who cannot legitimately claim to be traumatised. In the light of these considerations
the third section of the paper will ask some questions about the legitimacy of the policy
concern to listen to victims’ voices: the problem of testimony. Here the paper will be
concerned to ask some questions concerning the efficacy of such policy developments
if the claim to victim status rests on a presumption of trauma. All of these
considerations will be presented in the spirit of exploring what might be called a critical
victimological imagination. (author’s abstract)


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