Historical Trauma and Memory – Living with the Haunting Power of the Past
An interdisciplinary colloquium | Kigali, Rwanda 4—6 April 2018

Colloquium - Abstracts & Speakers’ Bios

Listed in order of appearance on the programme

Professor Eric Ndushabandi

Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace; School of Social, Political and Administrative Sciences, University of Rwanda, Rwanda

Dr. Eric Ndushabandi is currently the Director of an independent Think Tank, the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace, IRDP (www.irdp.rw ). He teaches Political Science at University of Rwanda where he served as the Vice-Dean of the School of Political, Administrative and Social Sciences. He Holds a PhD in Political and Social Sciences, from Louvain University in Belgium. His research focuses on memory policies and identity questions in post-conflict (genocide) reconstruction processes. Associate Researcher at Centre de Recherche en science politique (CRESPO) at Université Saint-Louis Brussels, he is member of several scientific networks: in USA, he is an alumni of the Study of the US Politics and Political thought program-University of Massachusetts, (funded by the U.S. State Department). He is also member of the Belgian Association of Political Scientists (ABSP). He has been also awarded the Erasmus Scholarship for Academic Exchange at Lund University, Sweden. In The Region Ndushabandi has initiated a “Regional Research Network on Peace and Security”, bringing together researchers and academics from Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. In Rwanda Ndushabandi is known as a senior analyst, active and engaged as senior trainer of trainers in capacity building with government institutions, civil society organizations, and political parties. He is currently the Chairperson of the Board of the Media High Council (MHC) and Board Member of Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA). He is in the process of publishing a book on Policy of Memory in Rwanda with l’Harmattan France).

Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Professor and Research Chair for Historical Trauma and Transformation in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University. Her research focuses mainly on two strands of research. The first is exploring ways in which the impact of the dehumanising experiences of oppression and violent abuse continues to play out in the next generation in the aftermath of historical trauma. For her second research area, she expands her earlier work on remorse and forgiveness and probes the role of empathy more deeply by engaging a perspective that makes transparent the interconnected relationship among empathy, Ubuntu and the embodied African phenomenon of inimba. Her critically acclaimed book, A Human Being Died that Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness explores the interweaving of remorse, apology and forgiveness, and it won the Christopher Award in the United States and the Alan Paton Prize in South Africa. The book has been published seven times, including translations in Dutch, German, Italian and Korean. Her other books include Narrating our Healing: Perspectives on Healing Trauma, as co-author, Memory, Narrative and Forgiveness: Perspectives on the Unfinished Journeys of the Past, as co-editor, Breaking Intergenerational Cycles of Repetition: A Global Dialogue on Historical Trauma and Memory, as editor.

Professor Kopano Ratele

Institute of Social and Health Sciences, University of South Africa (UNISA); South African Medical Research Council – UNISA Violence, Injury & Peace Research Unit, South Africa


In the movie Kinyarwanda, Emmanuel, the man who used to work for Jeanne’s parents and came back with a group to hack them to death, says “I am the one who killed the parents of this girl”. He then says, “from my heart I ask for forgiveness. In response Jeanne, who is standing in front of him, answers: “from the bottom of my heart, I am giving him pardon”. Although I have read on Rwanda’s gacaca courts, I found it hard to believe this, which, perhaps, may be a failure of the movie and not gacaca themselves. In another context, the former Archbishop of Cape Town, Mpilo Desmond Tutu, on being asked “what do you actually do when you forgive someone” responded: “Well, basically you’re saying I am abandoning my right to revenge, to pay back”. Why would one give up the right to retribution? It is not always easy to forgive and to understand forgiveness. It seems easy to appreciate that those who have been hurt would want vengeance. Forgiveness is an ordinary human occurrence, but for some wounds, especially when no reprieve has been forthcoming, it is too high a mountain to climb. We are told know that we have to let go of our anger and hurt in order to be free, but pay back against those who have injured one is celebrated in films and television series. We know it is a virtuous thing to forgive, but vengeance can assuage some of the pain. Against all this, I want to examine the circumstances under which, in the context of transgenerational trauma, men, because of suspected gendered differences, might want to hurt others but do not. I would like to show what makes it possible for some men who can hurt end up giving up on wanting to hurt those who have hurt their people, their parents and them. And I would like to trace how these men are able to integrate trauma in their present lives and live well with and beyond the memory of a hurtful past?

Kopano Ratele is Professor in the Institute of Social and Health Sciences at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and researcher in the South African Medical Research Council – UNISA Violence, Injury & Peace Research Unit. He runs the Research Unit on Men & Masculinities and the Transdisciplinary African Psychology Programme. Most of his work focuses on the subject of men and masculinities in intersection with violence, race, income, sexuality, and culture. Kopano is past president of the Psychological Society of South Africa and a member of a number of editorial boards, including Feminism & Psychology, NORMA: the International Journal for Masculinity Studies, and Psychology in Society. Among other roles, Kopano is convener of the NRF panel on Psychology, member of the Spur Panel, and member of the current national Ministerial University Transformation Oversight Committee. His books include There Was This Goat: Investigating the Truth Commission Testimony of Notrose Nobomvu Konile (with Antjie Krog and Nosisi Mpolweni, 2009), Liberating Masculinities (2016), Engaging Youth in Activism, Research and Pedagogical Praxis: Transnational and Intersectional Perspectives on Gender, Sex, and Race (co-edited with Jeff Hearn, Tammy Shefer, and Floretta Boonzaier, forthcoming in 2018) and African Psychology for the Confused (forthcoming). A regular guest on radio and television, Kopano co-hosts Cape Talk Dads with Mr Botha and Mr Sachane on The Koketso Sachane Show on Cape Talk Radio.

Professor John Brewer

Post Conflict Studies, The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security & Justice, Queen’s University, Belfast


Memory is thought to be about the past and the present. This paper suggests memory is also about the future. It introduces the notion of remembering forwards, which is contrasted with remembering backwards. The distinction between these two forms of remembering defines the burden of memory in post-conflict societies, as well as offering a solution to what the paper calls the burden of the future; namely the problem of how to live together in a shared future despite divided memories. In societies emerging out of conflict, where divided memories in part constituted the conflict, social memory privileges remembering backward. Collective and personal memories elide within social memory to perpetuate divided group identities and contested personal narratives.  Above all, social memory works to arbitrate the future, by predisposing a pathological memory culture that locks people into the past. Forgetting the past is impossible and undesirable. What is needed in societies emerging out of conflict is to be released from the hold that oppressive and haunting memories have over people. This paper suggests that this is found in the idea of remembering forwards. This is not the same as forgetting or forgiving. The paper further argues that these enduring divided memories need to be reimagined by the application of truth, tolerance, togetherness and trajectory.  The paper suggests that it is through remembering forwards with truth, tolerance, togetherness and trajectory that people in post-conflict societies can manage the burden of the future, and thus inherit a shared society despite their divided pasts and live in tolerance in the midst of contested memories. Instead of focusing on the past-present relationship we have in remembering backwards, remembering forwards allows us to theorise the past-present-future relationship.

John Brewer is Professor of Post Conflict Studies in the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast. He was awarded an Honorary DSocSci from Brunel University and is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow in the Academy of Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He has held visiting appointments at Yale University, St John’s College Oxford, Corpus Christi College Cambridge and the Australia National University. He has been President of the British Sociological Association. He is Honorary Professor Extraordinary at Stellenbosch University and is a member of the United Nations Roster of Global Experts. He is the author or co-author of sixteen books and editor or co-editor of a further six.

Doctor Emery Kalema

Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


This paper is about the scars and marks left on the bodies of survivors of the Mulele rebellion (DR Congo), their signifying capacity, and their relationship with the apprehension of time, the arresting of time, and the annihilation of future time. Drawing on extensive oral interviews and other forms of evidence, including scars and marks on the bodies of survivors, as well as a body of theory on psychoanalysis, continental mirror, time, laughter, and the gaze of others, this paper argues that to be tortured during the rebellion in the 1960s was unimaginably terrible. But the suffering did not end there. There was something beyond that, something even more important that caused a kind of psychic suffering which not only exceeded the physical, but also extended across time.

Emery Kalema is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He holds a PhD in History from the University of the Witwatersrand (2017). His research interests include power and politics, body and embodiment, violence, memory, trauma and suffering, as well as the postcolony. He is currently working on a book project, based on his doctoral dissertation, tentatively entitled, Violence and Memory: The Mulele ‘Rebellion’ in Postcolonial Congo. The book focuses on the “imaginaries of suffering” and the relationship between power, memory, and suffering. He is also planning to conduct a set of philosophical reflections around the theme Memory as Freedom and Right.

Doctor Christine Schliesser

Center for Ethics, Institute for Social Ethics, Zurich University, Switzerland


When Paul Ricœur calls for a “juste mémoire,” a just memory, he indicates that memory is not morally neutral. Rather, it can be just or unjust. It is my thesis that processes of remembrance and forgetting in their individual and collective dimensions constitute a “normative bridge” between the past, the present and the future. As such, they are of fundamental importance to processes of healing and reconciliation after historical trauma. I will unfold my thesis in three consecutive steps. In a first step, I will sketch out the theoretical framework in which I situate the term “normative”. A second step discusses remembrance – and forgetting – and their formative and normative power for the presence and the future. A third and final step seeks to relate processes of remembrance to processes of healing and reconciliation, exploring paths that seem conducive and/or hindering to dealing constructively with historical trauma.

Dr. Christine Schliesser is a theologian and an ethicist at the Center for Ethics at Zurich University, Switzerland. She is also a Research Associate at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Her areas of interest include conflict- and reconciliation studies, the theology and ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, human rights, development studies and the role of theology in the public sphere. Her most recent book is Alternative Approaches in Conflict Resolution, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018 (edited together with Martin Leiner).

Professor Annemiek Richters

Amsterdam School for Social Science Research; Community Based Sociotherapy Rwanda


The recurrence of violence and conflict happens in many societies that have previously known genocide or other gross violations of human rights. Explanations refer to memories of experienced traumas that transmit from one generation to the next, whether through narrative, behavior or silence. Complex lines of transmission are encompassed in the inter- and trans-generational umbrella term ‘memory’. While authors of Holocaust memory studies see the family as privileged site of memory transmission, in the context of Rwanda it is important to be aware that the way the second generation responds to intra-family transmission is much interlinked with transmission of different kinds of memory within communities as well as the collective memory the government promotes in its various transitional justice policies and practices. This presentation aims to introduce 1) a set of theoretical concepts relevant for social memory studies in post-conflict societies and 2) a trauma-informed approach to restorative justice in multi-generational perspective. While looking at the world through a comparative lens, post-genocide Rwanda will serve as a main reference point. Video fragments will be shown as illustration.

Annemiek Richters is emeritus professor culture, health and illness, Leiden University Medical Center, and staff member of the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research, the Netherlands. She has supported community-based sociotherapy in Rwanda since 2005 in various capacities. Her publications address topics in fields such as ‘gender, culture, violence, trauma, human rights, health and healing’, ‘the quality of reproductive health care for black, migrant and refugee women in the Netherlands’, ‘the cultural comparison of medicine and women’s body politics in the context of globalization’, ‘cultural identity and transcultural psychiatry’, and ‘community-based sociotherapy in post-genocide Rwanda’. Website: www.annemiekrichters.nl

Doctor Kim Wale

Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


Nostalgia is a complex, affect-laden phenomenon characterized by strong feelings that seem to pull in opposite directions at the same time. It is both pain and pleasure, both home and longing. This paper explores nostalgic memory in the context of a Cape Town township called Bonteheuwel, where two generations narrate memories of a violent past with a sense of bitter-sweet longing. Drawing on the theoretical literature and the case study, I will demonstrate two different yet interconnected ways in which nostalgia is working through memory narratives from two generations. On the one hand, I will show how nostalgic affect surrounds, transmits and points towards painful memories of past violence shared by this community that still require a process of collective mourning. On the other hand, I will show how there is also a social critique of the present being implied through nostalgic narratives about the past. This social critique contains within it an expression of what people feel they would require in order for such a process of collective mourning of past violence to take place in the present and future.

Dr. Kim Wale is a senior post-doctoral fellow in Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation at the University of Stellenbosch. She is leading the analysis of a large dataset on transgenerational transmission of trauma, one of the initiative’s flagship research projects, which is funded by the Mellon Foundation. She completed her PhD at the University of London (SOAS) in post-conflict development. She was project leader of the South African Reconciliation Barometer Survey at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. Her first major book titled South Africa’s Struggle to Remember: Contested Memories of Squatter Resistance in the Western Cape was published by Routledge.

Professor Christo Thesnaar

Department of Practical Theology and Missiology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


The statement by the Hungarian psychiatry scholar Boszormenyi-Nagy “We benefit from the past; we owe to the future” is an attempt to find a way to deal with historical trauma and memory that is passed on through generations. The inheritance passed on is not only limited to biological relationship but also includes common history, political ideologies, religious beliefs, family traditions and traumatic experiences. The legacy of the trauma and memory inheritance passed on from the one generation to the next generation functions as a bridge between the past, the present and the future. This inheritance of historical trauma and memory can be a burden on the next generation(s) and therefore keep the conflict frozen alive for generations. However, the current and future generations can also benefit from the historical trauma and memory when the current generation are willing to deal with traumatic memory to ensure that it is not dumped on the next generation. In this way, the current generation takes responsibility to deal with the past because they owe it to the further generations.  This contribution will therefore strive to engage with the contextual therapy theory of the Hungarian psychiatry scholar Boszormenyi-Nagy in an attempt to contribute to find ways to break through the challenges of destructive transgenerational trauma and historical memory that continues to keep ‘frozen conflict’ alive between generations.

Christo Thesnaar is currently associate professor in the Department of Practical Theology and Missiology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. His specialization in Practical Theology is in the sub-discipline of pastoral care and counselling. He has published various articles and chapters in books locally and internationally on topics such as memory, trauma, justice, healing and reconciliation. He also participated in a number of research projects locally and internationally, including “Religious Identity Construction and Community Building at the Intersections of the Rural, the Urban, and the Virtual” and “Trauma, Memory, and Representations of the Past: Transforming scholarship in the humanities and the arts “. He has a particular interest in research from a transdisciplinary approach on the broad theme of reconciliation. He also regularly presents papers at national and international conferences and has a close relationship with the Jena Center for Reconciliation. He is the founding member and councillor of the “The Institute for the Healing of Memories” in South Africa.

Doctor Wilhelm Verwoerd

Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa; Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, Belfast


This paper distinguishes between different strands of ongoing shared responsibility, as an individual white South African, for the systemic dehumanisation of Apartheid.  In addition to more conventional causal responsibility of pre-1994 white South Africans, there is the cross-generational responsibility arising from being a beneficiary of Apartheid.  My main interest, however, is in a third, more relational strand, which might be termed “re-present-ative” responsibility.  Given the collective, cumulative trauma associated with whiteness in South Africa, my mere membership of this racial group has the power to trigger this trauma – to bring historical pain into the present.  The key question is: how do I respond to this dynamic? If I deny or remain indifferent to this trigger potential of whiteness, then my response adds insult to injury.  This response makes me directly responsible for further wounding and thus contributes to the rising tide of black anger.  An alternative response would be humbly to acknowledge what my whiteness re-presents, to respond with historically informed moral sensitivity, and thus to contribute to healing.

Dr. Wilhelm Verwoerd is a Research Fellow at the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology, University of Stellenbosch, and Teaching Associate at Trinity College, Dublin (Irish School of Ecumenics, Belfast). As a former researcher within the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (1995-98) and a reconciliation practitioner in Northern Ireland (2001-2012) he is particularly interested in approaching the dynamics of (re)humanisation/reconciliation from the perspective(s) of former combatants/ veterans/perpetrators. He is currently working on a book based on an international “Beyond Dehumanisation” reflective learning project with ex-combatants and survivors from the conflict in and about Northern Ireland, Israel-Palestine, South Africa and the USA.

Doctor Dagmar Kusá

Political Science, Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts, Slovakia; International Center for Conciliation, Boston


As the Polish Parliament currently passes a law forbidding anyone from implicating Poland in the crimes committed against the Jews during the Holocaust, as the Czechs protest the publication of a book suggesting widespread complicity of the common people with the Czechoslovak communist totalitarian regime, or as the protesting South African students challenge the narrative of one Rainbow Nation, question arises how collective memory and narratives of cultural trauma relate to the quality and stability of democracies in transition a generation since their onset and how successful they are in their intergenerational transmission. Central European countries have outdone themselves in exporting the guilt for the crimes of the 20th century totalitarian regimes; lack of own responsibility for this past is cemented in national identity that excludes minorities old and new from equal partnership in the state. South African historical narrative of the transition to democracy and national reconciliation seems to be falling short of convincing the disenchanted youth that grapples with systemic socio-economic inequality which the new regime failed to address successfully. The lack of open address of historical traumas is producing fractured national memories, visible predominantly among the generation born after the turnover of the regimes. Where intergenerational dialogue is faltering, educational system bears all the more responsibility for cultivating democratic citizenship through critical inquiry into the past.

Dagmar Kusá received her MA in political science from Comenius University, her PhD. in political science from Boston University. Prior to BISLA, Dagmar worked in the Slovak Helsinki Committee for Human Rights and served on its Board of Directors. In 2008/2009, she worked at EUROCLIO, the European Association of History Educators in the Hague. Since 2004, Dagmar was the Program Director at the International Center for Conciliation in Boston, where she remains affiliated as a Senior Fellow and trainer in identity conflicts transformation. Her primary academic interests include the political use of collective memory, ethnic identity, citizenship and minorities, and manifestations of cultural trauma in public discourse. Her current research focuses on the quality of democracy in countries transitioning from totalitarian or authoritarian regimes and its relation to the institutional choices of addressing the past, particularly in the context of South African and Central European transitions. She serves as the country expert on citizenship at the European Democratic Observatory (at EUI) and co-organizes a global annual Muslim-Jewish Conference. She is the Vice President of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Slovakia.

Samantha Lakin

Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace, Rwanda; Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University, USA

Samantha Lakin is a PhD candidate at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University. She holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School, Tufts University, and a B.A., Magna Cum Laude, from Brandeis University. Lakin is a Fulbright Scholar in Rwanda (2017-2018), where her dissertation research focuses on memory and justice in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. Lakin was a Fulbright scholar in Switzerland (2011-2012), researching the rescue of Jewish children during World War II. Lakin currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Fulbright Association and the Board of Trustees of Survivors Fund (SURF). She has also held contracts in the justice sector in Northern Uganda, Nigeria, Burundi, and Rwanda for organizations including Aegis Trust and the Kigali Genocide Memorial, Refugee Law Project, Never Again Rwanda, and the U.S. Embassy.

Lakin has recently been featured on Voice of America-Afrique, and gave a Ted Talk, “Exploring Stories of Genocide and Justice after Conflict” at TEDxFulbrightSantaMonica in 2015. She is a published author and an active public speaker on social justice issues. Lakin currently serves as a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Research for Dialogue and Peace.

Jane Abatoni

ARCT–Ruhuka, Rwandan Association of Trauma Counsellors


A link has been established between parental exposure to traumatic stress and children’s psychological/mental health as evidenced by different researches, as well as within our clients over the past 20 years of counselling practice and experience at ARCT-Ruhuka. Rape was used as a weapon to kill and dehumanize women and girls during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda, infecting many with HIV and thousands of children born as result of rape. Being a product of rape can be a very traumatizing experience, but even more so when the perpetrator’s intention was to kill and dehumanize the victim. This leaves the victim with severe PTSD that can be transmitted/passed over to their offspring and the next generation. This presentation will discuss the experiences from cases received in our counselling services (individual, family or groups) of transgenerational trauma of children born out of rape committed during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, that left the victims with multiple traumas, which was passed on to their children, and how they are facing biological, family, cultural/community related PTSD.

A founding member and Executive Secretary for the Rwandan organization of professional counsellors, Jane Abatoni Gatete is a peace builder and human rights activist with over 20 years’ experience and expertise in the psychosocial field, and peace building and conflict management in post conflict settings. Motivated by an anonymous need for the healing of wounds, reconciliation and reintegration of trauma victims in post genocide Rwanda, Jane has been heading implementation of different psychosocial intervention programs and consultancies. She is a trained and practicing professional Counsellor, one of the ARCT-Ruhuka Senior Trainers and Clinical Supervisor for professional counsellors. She holds an MA in Peace Studies and Conflict Transformation from the University of Rwanda. Jane has worked in different capacities and today, she is the Chairperson for Benishyaka Organization, an organization that works for empowering women and girls. She has worked as Chairperson for Rwanda Youth Healing Centre, served as 1st Vice president for Profemmes Twese Hamwe (PFTH), an umbrella organization that promotes women and children’s rights, BOD member for East African Sub Regional Support Initiative for Advancement of Women (EASSI), and serves on several committees and commissions in local and regional levels, especially those on women and children’s rights. She holds regular TV and radio talk shows on psychosocial issues.

Professor Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu

IBUKA, Umbrella Association of Genocide Survivors Organizations, Rwanda


My contribution is based on some observations made as a Psychologist and President of an umbrella of genocide survivors’ organization (IBUKA). It will show that in the aftermath of the genocide against Tutsi, the trauma is carried across to the second generation through identifiable mechanisms in everyday life and different episodes of the psychosocial reconstruction process. The intervention highlights transmission experiences of resilience patterns as well.

Prof Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu (PhD) is a researcher and faculty member in psychology, with an interest in traumas and risk factors for chronic PTSD and prolonged grief, and social factors as predictors of chronic PTSD. He is a national and international advocate for mental health care infrastructure, training and intervention, and innovative treatments in Rwanda where the presence of Trauma is a public health issue in the aftermath of the Genocide against Tutsi. Currently, he is the President of IBUKA, an umbrella of 15 genocide survivors’ organizations.

Professor Nancy Rose Hunt

Department of History & Center for African Studies, University of Florida, USA


What work may the word trauma do? How may it frame history or position subjects to see pasts, futures, and each other? When and how has trauma become a diagnosis and with what effects? There is no denying the theoretical power of the trauma word in opening up matters of repetition, harm, and the eerie. But as a diagnostic category (PTSD) that bleeds into subjective, collective, or clinical states, has the trauma frame always been kind, capacious, and just to those living in post-conflict settings, whether in a here and now or over long durations? Might another scaffolding, category, or point of view enable forms of recognition, dissent, or dreamwork? My speculative reflections will wander across worlds, cases and registers. They will puzzle over post-genocidal, literary, and epidemiological approaches and fashions in “nervous states” and mental health research and care settings alike, also embracing my own narrative and methodological choices as a scholar writing a history of a post-conflict colonial situation (in parts of post-Leopoldian Belgian Congo). Refusing or decentering trauma as a narrative, political, or clinical frame may embolden. It may even unleash productive conflict, insurgent forms, daydreams, or courage. If there is a naiveté to such a surrogate frame, at least it repositions harm and trauma, away from the risk of victim production. Ghastly Injury and memories may remain, suffering, disability, and forgetting too, but such work of reframing may bring wits, creativity, and generative discord to the fore.

Nancy Rose Hunt (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1992; B.A., University of Chicago, 1980) joined the University of Florida as Professor of History & African Studies in 2016, after having worked for nineteen years as a professor in History (and Obstetrics/Gynecology) at the University of Michigan. Her work focuses on the history and anthropology of health, medicine, reproduction, childhood, humanitarianism, and madness in Africa, with attention to subaltern politics on a global scale. A Colonial Lexicon: Of Birth Work, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo (Duke, 1999) received the prestigious Herskovits Prize. A Nervous State: Violence, Remedies, and Reverie in Colonial Congo (Duke, 2016) received the Martin Klein Prize from the American Historical Association. She is currently preparing a history of anthropology in ex-Belgian Africa from Mary Douglas and the IRSAC anthropologists to the present. Hunt’s articles have appeared in such journals as Past & Present, The Lancet, History Workshop Journal, Somatosphere, Africa, Journal of African History, Signs, and Contemporary Anthropology.

Professor Jaco Barnard-Naudé

Department of Private Law, University of Cape Town, South Africa


In this paper, I bring together the concept of reparative citizenship – as a poetic way of being in the world – and what Jacques Lacan called ‘the discourse of the analyst’. I argue that these two are conditions of one another and that there is an urgent necessity, specifically in post-conflict societies, to create space for the emergence of reparative citizenship and the discourse of the analyst, because it is only through these forms of relation that we are able to actualise the possibility of a world beyond the irreparable recurrence of the worst.

Jaco Barnard-Naudé holds degrees in Commerce, Law, Jurisprudence and Creative Writing from the Universities of Pretoria and Cape Town. He is Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Cape Town and the British Academy’s Newton Advanced Fellow in the Law School at Westminster University, London. Jaco holds a National Research Foundation (NRF) rating and is a past recipient of the UCT Fellows’ Award. He is a respected book and film critic in South Africa and a frequent speaker at international academic gatherings. His research concentrates at the intersections of critical theory, psychoanalysis, cultural theory, law and literature.

Shari Eppel

Ukuthula Trust


Zimbabwe has multiple layers of traumatic past, going back to the arrival of colonialism in the 1890s. It is the war of independence, ending in 1979, and the political violence that occurred post-independence in the west of the country, that has left its most significant imprint on the current generations. Almost immediately after 1980, the ZANU-PF government clamped down on Matabeleland, home to the minority Ndebele ethnic group, and also stronghold of ZAPU, the opposition. An estimated 20,000 civilians were brutally murdered, hundreds of thousands of others were beaten, raped and lost property during this “Gukurahundi” era. Our organization was told by rural survivors that the worst legacy of these massacres was the angry dead, improperly buried, without ritual. Since 1999, we have professionally exhumed and reburied some of these dead, always on the demands of families and traditional leadership. Longitudinal interaction shows dramatic healing for families, with each exhumation amounting to a mini truth commission. However, the younger generation in the region has not inherited their parents’ massive fear of the state, rather showing growing anger at the continued repression of the truth of these massacres.

Shari Eppel, a Zimbabwean, is Director of Ukuthula Trust, which focuses on community reconciliation processes. In the 1990s, she was the primary author of what remains the only substantial history of the post-independence ‘Gukurahundi’ massacres. She has authored thirty-plus human rights reports in the last twenty years, as well as publishing internationally on torture, government demolitions, humanitarian disasters affecting rural families in Matabeleland. Since the 1990s, she has spear-headed ad hoc exhumations and reburials, for purposes of “healing the dead”. Eppel acquired a Masters in Forensic Anthropology in 2014, and is currently training a forensic anthropology team for Zimbabwe, as well as doing her Doctorate.

Professor Andrea Bieler

Department of Theology, Divinity School of Basel University, Switzerland


In my presentation, I will explore the question to which extent and how the attentiveness to historic trauma in the aftermath of gross human rights violations can be understood as a site of theological and aesthetic creativity. The aftermath situation of atrocious violence demands the social, economic and spiritual reordering of one’s own relationship with friends, enemies, neighbors, perpetrators, victims and bystanders as well as a rebuilding of social and economic structures. For religious individuals and communities it also demands the reframing of one’s own relationship with the Divine. I will explore religious resources as well as some art works in order to present some ideas for a practical theological hermeneutics that attends to the potential as well as to distorted ways of dealing with a violent past that haunts the following generations.

Andrea Bieler is Professor of Practical Theology at the Divinity School of Basel University in Switzerland. She is an Advanced Career scholar in the Enhancing Life research network at the University of Chicago. Her project title is: Enhancing Life in the Aftermath of Atrocious Violence. Exploring the Religious and Cultural Imaginary. She is interested in historic trauma as a hermeneutical category in practical theological reflection and in social as well as aesthetic practice. She is author/editor of 13 books and numerous essays, e.g.: After Violence. Religion, Trauma and Reconciliation, Leipzig 2011; Verletzliches Leben. Horizonte einer Theologie der Seelsorge, Göttingen 2017. Recently, she produced a film on the Institute for Healing of Memories in South Africa in cooperation with Ralf Bieler. You can watch it at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZg-rQ-0Qds

Professor Martin Leiner

Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies & Chair in Protestant Ethics at the Faculty of Theology, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany


Since 2013 the Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies together with partners is conducting studies about reactions on the exposure to the suffering of another group when the other group often is framed as enemies and their suffering is not much known in the dominant discourse of a society. That is the case for Israelis concerning the suffering of Palestinians and also for Palestinians concerning the holocaust. My presentation will focus on the work with more than 100 Palestinians and present results of our research. I will discuss whether and to which extend the historical trauma of Palestinians interacts with the perception of the holocaust. A small group of South Africans who visited Buchenwald concentration camp helped us a lot to check and clarify our results. Topics such as sense of reality, different levels of empathy and recognition as well as willingness to reconcile will be addressed as well.

Prof. Dr. Martin Leiner, was born in 1960, studied Protestant Theology and Philosophy in Tübingen. Under supervision of Prof. Gerd Theißen, he earned his PhD in 1995 from Heidelberg university on Psychological Exegesis of the New Testament. From 1998-2002 he was professor of Protestant Theology in Neuchâtel university and directed the Ethics Center of the University of Geneva from 2000 to 2002. Since 2002 he is chair of Protestant Ethics at Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena/Germany. In 2013 he founded the Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies (JCRS) which works on reconciliation processes worldwide with a transdisciplinary perspective.

Doctor Melike Fourie

Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


South Africa provides an important opportunity to study group processes and the transgenerational impact of historical trauma, given its racially divided past. While much attention has been paid to right the wrongs of the past at a socio-political level, the long-term implications of gross human rights violations at a more interpersonal level, and how it plays out in the lives of descendants of this violence have not been considered adequately. Notably, it is important to understand how the legacies of historical trauma affects outgroup perspective taking – an imperative ingredient for national unity. Perspective taking has been described as a ‘sensitive understanding’ of the other – the process whereby we actively try to imagine how another person thinks and feels given their situation. We investigated cross-racial perspective taking in Black and White university students using multiracial social scenarios, to examine how outgroup behaviour and motivation is construed in the born-free generation. Results confirmed the anticipated association between diminished perspective taking and empathic breakdown, both within and across racial groups. Of significance, however, is that the social context significantly modulated outgroup perspective taking: events set in the public discourse around race had a strong ingroup polarizing effect on responses, whereas politically neutral events had the effect of enhancing empathy and perspective taking toward Black individuals across participants.

Melike Fourie is a Research Associate leading the neuroscientific investigation of empathy in the Historical Trauma and Transformation Unit. She holds an MSc in cognitive neuropsychology from University College London (2006), and a PhD in affective neuroscience from the University of Cape Town (2011). Her research interests fall within the domains of social psychology and social neuroscience, with a particular focus on intergroup relations and identifying and characterising the factors that affect how we see and respond to members of social (racial) outgroups. She believes a deeper understanding of implicit brain processes that drive behaviour is key in this undertaking.


Angela Jansen

Community Based Sociotherapy Rwanda

Angela Jansen (1985) has a BA in Cultural Anthropology and a MSc in International Development Studies, with a specialization in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. She has worked with different NGO’s in the Netherlands, Haiti and Cameroon. Since 2013, she has been working as a Program Manager for Community Based Sociotherapy Rwanda. In line with her work, she conducts research within the Rwandan context, focusing on narrative identity among perpetrators and intergenerational dynamics.

Grace Kagoyire

Community Based Sociotherapy Rwanda; Rwandan Association of Trauma-counsellors

Marie Grace Gasinzigwa Kagoyire is a public health professional with a background in professional counselling and social sciences. She is a Participatory Action Researcher – Community Based Sociotherapy Program in Rwanda. She has experience in working with women victims of rape through group counselling and qualitative research and in psychosocial counselling and clinical supervision in the mental health field. She is a member and the vice chair of the Rwandan Association of Trauma-counsellors (ARCT-RUHUKA). Her research interests are silencing of past memories and transgenerational transmission of trauma in post-genocide Rwanda.

Diogene Karangwa

Community Based Sociotherapy Rwanda; Foundation of Sustainable Peace; Technology and Business Studies, University of Tourism, Rwanda

Diogene Karangwa is a Rwandan, with a Master of Science in Project Management from Jomo Kenyatta University. In addition, he has an internationally recognized certificate in Group Analysis from the Institute of Group Analysis (IGA-UK) and certificates in Genocide and Mass Atrocities Studies and in Human Rights by Aegis Trust and Conflict Management by Community Based Sociotherapy. He has worked for four years as a Participatory Action Researcher in Community Based Sociotherapy – Rwanda, with interests in intergenerational transfers, mixed marriages, psychosocial dynamics and economic development. He is also a part-time Assistant Lecturer at the University of Tourism, Technology and Business Studies (UTB). Since September 2017, he coordinates the community-based sociotherapy project Foundation of Sustainable Peace – Breaking the Cycle of Intergenerational Trauma and Violence.

Sue Williamson

Renowned South African Artist

Digital artwork on forgiveness: “IT’S A PLEASURE TO MEET YOU”

In the video work, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you’, two young people, both of whose fathers were shot by the apartheid police when they were very small, discuss growing up in families where the subject of ‘father’ was taboo. Candice Mama describes being invited to meet her father’s killer, the notorious apartheid security policeman Eugene de Kock, in 2015 as he sought parole from a long jail sentence. At this meeting, she tells De Kock she has forgiven him. Siyah Mgoduka is incredulous at hearing this. For him, forgiveness is impossible. In a very honest discussion, the two explain their points of view. Showing this video to groups of students and young people has opened up discussion about personal pain and catharsis, and about the very difficult subject of true forgiveness. In some cases, students have written about their own traumatic experiences on large sheets of paper in the gallery. Coming forward with a personal history which one might have suppressed from shame or deep anxiety can provide a path to coming to terms with the past.

Sue Williamson is a Cape Town based artist whose work engages with themes related to trauma, memory and identity formation. Trained as a printmaker, Williamson has also worked in photography, video, and mixed media installations. Work such as Mementoes of District Six (1993), and Truth Games (1998) convey her investment in the recuperation and interrogation of South African history. Her work is included in many international public collections, such as MoMA, New York, the Tate Modern in London, and the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Williamson is also known for her writing on contemporary art, and her own work is documented in the SKIRA publication, Sue Williamson: Life and Work.