Literature, Truth and Transitional Justice

Post-Conflict Literature

Western Sydney University, Bankstown campus, 1-2 October 2014

Matt McGuire and Chris Andrews have edited a book titled Post-Conflict Literature(opens in a new window) based on the presentations at this event.

What is the role of literature in the aftermath of political conflict? How might literary texts inform the broader discourses around transitional justice, historical reckoning and social reconciliation? Can a work of fiction constitute a truth commission in its own right? Might it function as a form of therapeutic storytelling, an aide-memoire, a discursive space in which a traumatic history might be articulated and exorcised?

The symposium poses these questions in various national contexts, with papers on works set in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Germany, Brazil and Guatemala, among other countries. While remaining attentive to the deep historical and cultural differences between the situations considered, the symposium explores possibilities for the comparative study of literatures written in the wake of political violence.

The symposium is proposed in the conviction that literature offers a unique perspective on peace processes and their fragility, and may therefore valuably inform our attempts to right the wrongs of the past and shape a better tomorrow.

Read or download the symposium program (PDF, 78.88 KB) (opens in a new window).

Symposium Participants and audio recordings

Dorothy Driver
Dorothy Driver (University of Adelaide)

Tony Simeos da Silva
Tony Simoes da Silva (University of Wollongong) on Haunted Imaginaries: Transition
in Nadine Gordimer's South Africa

Listen to Tony's paper (right click and "save link as" to download).‪

Idelber Avelar
Idelber Avelar (Tulane University) on The Brazilian dictatorship and the Amazon

Listen to Idelber's paper (right click and "save link as" to download).‪

Madalena Zolkos
Magdalena Zolkos (Australian Catholic University) on Justice, the Confessional, and the Violin: Jaume Cabre's Confessions

Listen to Magdalena's paper (right click and "save link as" to download).

Cahal McLaughlinCahal McLaughlin (Queens University Belfast)

Michael Humphrey and Estela ValverdeMichael Humphrey (University of Sydney) and Estela Valverde (Macquarie University) on From private to public witnessing: transitional justice and the revision of official memory of the Dirty War in Argentina

Listen to Michael and Estela's paper (right click and "save link as" to download).

Chris AndrewsChris Andrews (Western Sydney University) on Rodrigo Rey Rosa and the Perils of Truth Recovery

Listen to Chris' paper (right click and "save link as" to download).

‪ ‬Roseanne Kennedy and Alison Lewis
Roseanne Kennedy (Australian National University) and Alison Lewis (Melbourne University)  

Literature, Conflict and the Pursuit of Justice in Memoirs from Sierra Leone
Listen to Roseanne's paper (right click and "save link as" to download).

‪ ‬

Therapeutic Storytelling or Fictionalised Pathography?: literature by former Stasi agents
Listen to Alison's paper (right click and "save link as" to download).

Eamonn HughesEamonn Hughes (Queens University Belfast) on Metaphors and Metonyms: culture and education in the Good Friday Agreement 

Listen to Eamonn's paper (right click and "save link as" to download).

‪ ‬Matt McGuire
Matt McGuire (Western Sydney University) on 'Hope, History and Rhyme: Poetry and the Legacy of the Troubles

Listen to Matt's paper (right click and "save link as" to download).

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