Thursday, November 30, 4:15-6:00PM
Location: Marriott, Taylor
Sponsored by APLA and the Association for the Anthropology of Policy
Truth has emerged as an important space of accounting for past violence. In the wake of state terror, torture, disappearances, and genocide, communities have turned to truth as a grassroots response and challenge to political violence, through practices of memory and advocacy for justice that resist the erasure of their experience. States have also engaged truth as a form of transitional justice, using truth commissions and other modalities of truth in the wake of war, human rights abuses, and genocide. Yet, while truth has become critical to rebuilding civil society and democracy, it also represents a particular form of accounting, often existing in a constitutive tension with justice and the inherently contested nature of memory. This panel explores this plural and fractured nature of truth(s) as an opportunity to engage in a set of critical questions about truth in relation to violence, witnessing, and survival. Panelists explore these issues through fieldwork in Rwanda, Argentina, Cambodia, and Colombia, asking questions that include: what are the implications of public truth-telling and silences? How do they contribute to our understanding of genocide? What do testimonies responding to multiple periods of violence and terror suggest about the temporalities of survival? How does the juridical sphere reveal certain paradoxes of transitional justice in the wake of genocide, including a reductionism and partial and often political truth? What role do everyday spaces have in understanding the place of truth and ethnography in the survival of violence? Through these questions and perspectives, this panel thus examines how we, through our work as anthropologists, situate the ongoing legacies of violence in people’s lives, by exploring public truth-telling, testimony, trials, and the quieter spaces of everyday life – areas where the ethnographic imagination offers insights that further contribute to our understanding of truth and witnessing.
Organizer: Natasha Zaretsky, Rutgers University
Chair: Kimberly Theidon, Tufts University
Discussant: Victoria Sanford, Lehman College, CUNY