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Mass violence inflicted by states and groups have a prolonged effect on communities and nations. This subject considers the forms of trauma people experience as a response to these forms of violence and explores how this trauma propels calls for apologies, truth commissions, retribution and torture. The subject employs psychoanalytic theory and practice to consider what it means to be traumatised and what it means to seek remedies from law. Legal practices, apologies and demands for reconciliation will be discussed as methods of responding to the rage, pain and mourning that trauma demands. The course will be divided into 4 sections dealing with – trauma, torture, testimony and reconciliation. In these sections we will look at events in South Africa, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Australia and Nazi Germany, where legal mechanisms, apologies and vengeance have been utilised as responses to events such as genocide, terrorist acts, hostile occupation, and war. Note – some of the content of this course may be distressing.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject students should be able to:
- Employ understandings of psychoanalytic theories of trauma and know how to apply some of these theories to their practice in the field.
- understand the effects of torture on a body and on a society;
- consider the application of law, torture and ideas of reconciliation in relation to theories of justice;
- understand the role of legal rhetoric and policy in its relation to some practices of punishment, prohibition and incarceration;
- Understand different ideas of reconciliation and the implications of their application in differing contexts.
On completion of this subject students should:
- have highly developed cognitive, analytical and problem-solving skills;
- have an advanced understanding of complex concepts and the ability to express them lucidly in writing and orally;
- have sophisticated awareness of cultural, ethnic and gender diversities and their implications;
- have an ability to plan work and to use time effectively.
Last updated: 3 November 2022