Discourse and Human Rights Violations
First published as a Special Issue of the <i>Journal of Language and Politics</i> 5:1 (2006), this collection of papers focuses, from a number of different disciplinary perspectives, on aspects of language and communication in official processes of dealing with traumatic pasts. It is a text that belongs to the genre of talking about pain, about state violence, about uncovering suppressed truths. Linguists and a number of other social scientists investigate discourses, mostly ones generated during hearings of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), scrutinizing them for how trauma is articulated and sometimes overcome, for how confrontational discourses are publicly managed, for how, after gross human rights violations, reconciliation can be mediated. Language is viewed as an instrument of confronting a traumatic past, of negotiating conflict, and of initiating processes of healing for individuals as well as in communities.