The Archive in the Witness: Documentation in Settings of Chronic Insecurity


Riaño-Alcalá, Pilar, and Erin Baines. 2011. “The Archive in the Witness: Documentation in Settings of Chronic Insecurity.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (3): 412–33. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijr025.

Authors: Pilar Riaño-Alcalá, Erin Baines


Through an exchange between members of community-based organizations that document human rights violations in northwest Colombia and northern Uganda, this article examines multiple strategies of memory making in which an individual or a collective creates a safe social space to give testimony and re-story past events of violence or resistance. In settings of chronic insecurity, such acts constitute a reservoir of living documents to preserve memories, give testimony, contest impunity and convey the meaning, or the ‘truthfulness,’ of survivors. The living archive disrupts conventional assumptions about what is documentation or witnessing in the field of transitional justice and introduces new interdisciplinary tools to the field with which to learn from and listen differently to survivors.

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Women, Men, Justice, Transitional Justice, NGOs, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, East Africa, Americas, South America Countries: Colombia, Uganda

Year: 2011

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