Memory, Trauma, Truth, Engagement

1. The Project
Testimony broadly understood as an autobiographical narrative that presents evidence of first-person accounts of human rights abuses, and life under conditions of social oppression, continues to thrive and evolve in the twenty-first century. An examination of its ongoing use, reception, and development has been a research priority for scholars, artists, writers, activists, and practitioners working in diverse and multi-disciplinary professional contexts. Testimonial related research on issues such as human rights, trauma and memory, ethics, witnessing, and affect theory represent just some of the fundamental and valuable areas of focus many have pursued.

This project hub is focused on exploring the evolution of testimony, from canonical beginnings and structures through to other emerging interdisciplinary forms and productions. By examining trajectories (historical and contemporary) of shared stories of injustice and human rights abuses, we begin to understand the complexities that have characterized humanity’s endeavours to reconcile atrocity, witnessing, and reparation.

2. Interdisciplinarity
Since testimonial production implies a spectrum of disciplines, art forms, geographical and historical contexts as well as multi-lingual realities–it is through an interdisciplinary framework that allows for an ethical exploration of the impact and contributions of testimony and its legacies. It is through interdisciplinarity that a just and fair examination can be made of the impact and contributions of testimonial production within the cultures of redress and transnational justice processes for both the producers of testimony and their audience.

3. The Issues
a. Testimony is still used to record human rights abuses
b. In Testimony 1 and 2 we noticed a predominantly female demographic of presenters (Testimony 2 had one male participant). The question arises if testimony and its related fields is still gendered as female care work
c. Although mentioned in all CfPs we are still not getting representation from indigenous participants. This may be because we are asking them to use Eurocentric models and they may not want to use said model. Can we bridge this gap? How could we bridge this gap? Should it be bridged?
d. Need to get more involvement from government officials and/or representatives because they can open dialogues at that level and also affect change
e. How do we accommodate non-traditional participants at our venues. We have had to opportunity for art exhibits but were unable to accommodate special requirements for such presentations. Other possible presentation delivery methods include, for instance, poetry readings, performances and workshops.

4. The Audience
a. Scholars, researchers, educators
b. Government representatives and/or officials
c. General public
d. Human Rights organizations
e. Social justice organizations
f. Truth and Reconciliation affiliates
g. Artists, writers, musicians
h. Not-for-profit organizations with focus on human rights and social justice
i. Practitioners and professionals in the field dealing with trauma, human rights, social justice, etc.
5. The Outcomes
a. Raising international awareness on social justice and human rights
b. Opening an international dialogue on reparation on human rights violations and social justice
c. Identify where changes are being made in tribunals, government and Truth and Reconciliation hearings
d. Increase knowledge of global citizenship and responsibilities
e. Fostering a “safe” space for open dialogue in order to:

i. Share resources and tools
ii. Create international allyships
iii. Establish communication links