Memories as weapons: The politics of peace and silence in post-civil war Mozambique

Igreja, Victor (2008) Memories as weapons: The politics of peace and silence in post-civil war Mozambique. Journal of Southern African Studies, 34 3: 539-556. doi:10.1080/03057070802259720

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Author Igreja, Victor
Title Memories as weapons: The politics of peace and silence in post-civil war Mozambique
Journal name Journal of Southern African Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0305-7070
Publication date 2008-09
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/03057070802259720
Volume 34
Issue 3
Start page 539
End page 556
Total pages 18
Place of publication London, U.K.
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Subject 1601 Anthropology
Formatted abstract
Political and legal debates over the value of official silence in the aftermath of civil wars are inconclusive. On the one hand, official silence is considered disrespectful to the memory of the victims and an impediment to establishing a culture of accountability and respect for human rights. On the other, silence is regarded as instrumental to achieving peace. Yet, longitudinal analysis of the dynamics of official silence in Mozambique demonstrates that, in this post-conflict country, as in others, silence has not in fact been achieved. Official silence in politically pluralistic environs can also offer opportunities for political elites to use memories as weapons to settle accounts with former wartime foes. In post-civil war Mozambique, Frelimo and Renamo over time have moved away from the initial strategy of official quiescence. Both parties appropriated the official silence to wage fierce political battles where memories of the violent past are used as the principal weapon. The interruption of silence through manipulative appropriations of the grisly past take place in dispersed political activities; however, the most confrontational and violent eruptions of memory occur in the Mozambican national parliament. These political confrontations signal the necessity in this politically pluralistic society for complex readings of memory against the prevailing monolithic official history.
© 2008 The Editorial Board of the Journal of Southern African Studies
Keyword Civil war
Elite politics
Human rights
Party politics
Political conflict
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Institute for Social Science Research - Publications
Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 18 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 20 Jan 2010, 14:44:05 EST by Jon Swabey on behalf of Institute for Social Science Research