Emotional reconciliation: Reconstituting identity and community after trauma

Hutchison, Emma and Bleiker, Roland (2008) Emotional reconciliation: Reconstituting identity and community after trauma. European Journal of Social Theory, 11 3: 385-403. doi:10.1177/1368431008092569

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Author Hutchison, Emma
Bleiker, Roland
Title Emotional reconciliation: Reconstituting identity and community after trauma
Journal name European Journal of Social Theory   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1368-4310
1461-7137
Publication date 2008-08-01
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1177/1368431008092569
Open Access Status
Volume 11
Issue 3
Start page 385
End page 403
Total pages 19
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Sage Publications
Language eng
Subject 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
160699 Political Science not elsewhere classified
160609 Political Theory and Political Philosophy
Abstract This article examines the public significance of emotions, most specifically their role in constituting identity and community in the wake of political violence and trauma. It offers a conceptual engagement with processes of healing and reconciliation, showing that emotions are central to how societies experience and work through the legacy of catastrophe. In many instances, political actors deal with the legacy of trauma in restorative ways, by re-imposing the order that has been violated. Emotions can in this way be directed by elites who are concerned with reinstating political stability and social control. Healing often becomes more about retribution and revenge, rather than a long-term project begetting peace, collaboration and emotional catharsis. The emotions triggered by trauma thus tend to perpetuate existing antagonisms, further entrenching the disingenuous perceptions of identity that may have created violence in the first place. Surveying this process, this article suggests that scholars of politics and reconciliation need to be more attentive to the role emotion plays in shaping particular forms of community. Doing so requires a systematic understanding not only of the feelings associated with first-hand experiences of trauma, but also of the manner in which these affective reactions can spread and generate collective emotions, thus producing new forms of antagonism. Addressing this challenge, the authors explore how a more conscious and active appreciation of the whole spectrum of emotions — not only anger and fear, for instance, but also empathy, compassion and wonder — may facilitate more lasting and ingenuous forms of social healing and reconciliation.
Keyword Emotion(s)
Empathy
Reconciliation
Social healing
Trauma
South-Africa
Memory
Politics
Society
War
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Paper presented at the Workshop on Reconciliation, Politics and the Emotions,Conference location: Prato, Italy, Conference dates: 26-28 June 2006

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: 2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Political Science and International Studies Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 37 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 20 Mar 2009, 00:44:14 EST by Elmari Louise Whyte on behalf of School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies