A Painful Purgatory: Grief and the Nicaraguan Mothers of the Disappeared


Tully, Sheila R. 1995. “A Painful Purgatory: Grief and the Nicaraguan Mothers of the Disappeared.” Social Science & Medicine 40 (12): 1597–1610.

Author: Sheila R. Tully


In Latin America the past two decades have been marked by low-intensity conflicts, state-sponsored violence, and the creations of 'cultures of terror'. This research, conducted in Managua, Nicaragua during 1991-1992 examines the impact of political violence on a small group of women whose relatives were 'disappeared' during the Contra War. I discuss the lack of discourse about the disappeared and suggest possible reasons for this silence in the body politic, the community and the family.

The historical routinization of violence against the Nicaraguan poor and the continuing socio-political instability within the country present specific challenges to the healing processes of the Nicaraguan Mothers of the Disappeared. This article discusses some of the ways that these mothers challenge the collective silence and confront the public amnesia about what happened during the decade of war.

Keywords: Mothers of the Disappeared, low intensity warfare, suffering, terror

Topics: Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Households, Violence Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: Nicaragua

Year: 1995

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