Victor Igreja, born in Manica, Mozambique, in 1972. Ph.D. from Leiden University. Program officer and researcher at Mozambican NGO “Associação Esperança para Todos (AEPATO)”.
Fellow (1 September 2007 – 30 June 2008)
COMMUNITY STRATEGIES TO RESTRAIN VIOLENCE IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE PROTRACTED CIVIL WAR IN MOZAMBIQUE
The chapter I wrote at NIAS, “Testimonies of Wartime Experiences and Social Transformation in Gorongosa, Centre of Mozambique”, analyzes testimonies of individuals who survived the protracted Mozambican civil war (1976-1992) in Gorongosa district, a former epicentre of the civil strife in the mountains of Mozambique central. I argue that certain ‘forms of talk’ can be conceived of as mediators of past experiences of violence. Mediation is seen as processes which transform subjective positioning and allow individuals to give meaning to their violent past experiences through talk. The form of talk used in this article is testimony. The role of testimonies as mediators of experiences of violence stems from the ability of the witness to disclose features of human resilience and creativity in the face of extreme adversity. These features can be captured by considering the ‘ethics of verbal transactions.’ This means that the assumptions governing the mutual claims and responsibilities of speakers and listeners during talks are substantially qualified. This is to say that giving accounts of resilience and creativity during testimonies can be seen as a way of speakers to utter what they could or would not say through other forms of talk. I conclude by suggesting that resilience and creativity are key features that need to be carefully elicited from testimonies in order to enlighten our understanding of survivors’ active and peaceful engagement in the task of rebuilding their shattered world.