Linguistic Bearings and Testimonial Practices
The paper considers women’s testimonies before the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, tracing the complexities of speaking about suffering. A growing literature suggests that violence and horror corrupt language and interrupt its flow. Testimonial practices focused on violence’s recall then occupy unstable grounds. Arguing that testimony is mediated by the subject positions from which women speak and that these are shaped by cultural convention, the paper traces the effects of ‘modes of discomfort’, drawing attention to the faultlines between words and experience when violence is recalled.