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Crafting forgiveness accounts after war: Editing for effect in Northern Uganda

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  • Lotte Meinert
  • Julaina Obika
  • ,
  • Susan Reynolds Whyte, Institut for antropologi, Denmark
After two decades of conflict and internment in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), the Acholi people have returned to their homes and are trying to heal their wounds after the long war in northern Uganda. Bilateral and multilateral donors, NGOs, cultural organizations, and religious institutions are involved in the politically and personally sensitive work of reconciliation. Yet for most people, the actual restoration of peace lies in establishing an everyday life and being able to rebuild relationships with kin, friends and neighbours. In a collaborative project with an installation artist, the authors collected personal voice accounts of these ‘social repair’ processes and audio edited them in order to share them with a local public. The editing process raised critical issues regarding ‘editing for effect’, which are of wider relevance for discussions of ethnographic representation and social processes of editing past experience. As a way of crafting and controlling material, editing is always ‘for effect’. But the authors were struck by the powerful potentials of this artistic editing and by the difficulty in foreseeing or controlling its consequences among listeners. They suggest that personal processes of forgiveness resemble processes of editing, in the sense that past experience is revised and given narrative form, with an effect on the present and future of social relationships. When we edit, we foreground and background segments of data and experience, and cut parts of our representations. We do so while deciding something is irrelevant and other aspects should ‘stand out’ for the receiver and ourselves as more important.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnthropology Today
Pages (from-to)10-14
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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