Download Discourse and Human Rights Violations (Benjamins Current by Christine Anthonissen, Jan Blommaert PDF

By Christine Anthonissen, Jan Blommaert

First released as a distinct factor of the Journal of Language and Politics 5:1 (2006), this choice of papers focuses, from a few assorted disciplinary views, on facets of language and verbal exchange in legit procedures of facing tense pasts. it's a textual content that belongs to the style of conversing approximately discomfort, approximately kingdom violence, approximately uncovering suppressed truths. Linguists and several other social scientists examine discourses, normally ones generated in the course of hearings of the South African fact and Reconciliation fee (TRC), scrutinizing them for a way trauma is articulated and infrequently conquer, for the way confrontational discourses are publicly controlled, for a way, after gross human rights violations, reconciliation might be mediated. Language is seen as an device of confronting a annoying prior, of negotiating clash, and of beginning strategies of therapeutic for people in addition to in groups.

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Unlike the other examples quoted in this paper, Nomonde Tyali’s (NT) testimony is given in Xhosa. Both the official written version and the translator’s voice-over on the video-recording of her testimony are in English. This means that what we hear or read are not her own words. So, we have to restrict ourselves to analyzing general aspects of the structure of her testimony and the interaction between witness and facilitator, who spoke in English. The following analysis shows ways in which the commissioners could ‘assist’ in the production of the narratives: through the ‘staging’ of the testimony, the elicitation of additional information and reconstruction of the context of the event, and finally in the wrapping up of the hearing.

Here attention to preparatory activities of the TRC is crucial. It would generate deeper insight into the proceedings of the Commission and develop better understanding of certain decisions that were taken. This can then help explain certain achievements and failures of the Commission, and both positive and negative impressions of the TRC can be put in perspective. Moreover, discussing preceding activities of the TRC would be essential if one considers the The debate on truth and reconciliation South African TRC as a model for communities dealing with similar human rights violations elsewhere.

We focus on the public hearings conducted by the TRC’s Human Rights Violations Committee which all revolve around testimonies from witnesses: narratives of personal experiences by people 34 Jan Blommaert, Mary Bock and Kay McCormick framed and contextualized as victims of power abuse and human rights violations. The genre is peculiar to the extent that the TRC hearings can be seen as ‘freak events’: highly exceptional stagings for discourses of suffering produced by people, many of whom had previously been rendered voiceless and powerless but who, due to macro-historical causes, could now be put on the public forum as important, relevant and instructive storytellers.

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