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Accepted Paper:

‘Official Witnessing, Continuous Coloniality and State Violence: the Abridged Life of Victim-Survivor Testimony and the Socio-Historical Resilience of Oppression.’  
Yazier Henry (University of Michigan)

Paper short abstract:

State violations of human rights span executive, administrative, political, economic, moral and psychosocial forms of violence and victimhood. This paper explores how victim-perpetrator imbalances of structural power can be mobilized procedurally and destructively to silence victim-survivor voices.

Paper long abstract:

The acknowledged horrors of World War II acts as the political, legal and moral basis for the international evolution and political architectures of human rights. The same moral precepts, political imaginaries, socio-legal ideals and collective hopes are central to the impetus for reparative and apology movements. Such rights and hopes order both historical and contemporary national membership claims for official acknowledgement, accountability, reparations and the rights to social, economic, political, historical and retroactive justice in today’s political time. If the role of contemporary transitional justice mechanisms such as truth commissions and acts of official public apologies are to remain morally important in shaping national reparative frameworks, official victim testimony must have an administrative life beyond the narrow timeframes of statist recognition often imposed on official state procedures instantiated to manage ‘The Past’. The legal reasons, political ideals and social hopes of victim-survivors who provide witness testimony during post-conflict national productions of the ‘Official Record’ and ‘Official Truth’ should have continuous political, legal and moral life in state policies forced to address the past-present indignities, harms and injustice they voice, symbolize and represent in political time. My paper will theoretically and comparatively explore the socio-political, psycho-social and socio-economic impetus contained in the individual and collective embodiments of official testimony in colonial national membership transitions in South Africa, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Panel P016a
Proposed Title: Promises, Performativity, and Precarious Futures after Mass Violence I
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -