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Working through a traumatic past: from acknowledging victims and past atrocities to overcoming the legacies of violence from the civil-military dictatorship in Brazil

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Johnny Roberto Rosa
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/SBD)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Jose Antonio Vasconcelos; Leandro Seawright Alonso; Zilda Marcia Gricoli Iokoi; Erivan Cassiano Karvat; Marcos Antonio da Silva
Advisor: Jose Antonio Vasconcelos

Transitional justice is the set of administrative, judicial and legal measures, and the application of compensatory activities, educative actions and politics of memory adopted in order to come to terms with the violence perpetrated by societies emerging from periods in which gross human rights violations were committed. In Brazil, such measures, taken to overcome the atrocities committed by the State agents during the civil-military dictatorship (1964-1985), encompass compensating and educational actions, as well as politics of memory and truth carried out through the efforts of the Special Commission for the Dead and Missed Opponents, the Amnesty Commission and the National Truth Commission. Attempting to develop the foundations of the democratic legitimation and to strengthen the mechanisms of resistance to the authoritarianism, these measures contribute to the recognition of experiences of violence and lay the groundwork for reparation, clarification and acknowledgment of such experiences. Thus, what is questioned here is if the measures of transitional justice implemented by the commissions of reparation and truth may assume a therapeutic meaning, promoting the process of working through the trauma resultant from the atrocities perpetrated by the agents of repression. The narratives produced by the commissions are submitted to an inquiry that takes into account the working through process of such traumatic experiences in the context in which the Brazilian State puts in place measures for the recognition, reparation, reconciliation, clarification and acknowledgement of the crimes of repression. Such measures depending on the critical discursive claim and on the collective apprehension of their representations, on the association that allows integration and meaning to the experience characterize the process of trauma in its social-cultural extent and convey to the critical analyses and to the conceiving of the collective identity and memory as part of a collective testimony. However, it is agreed that the deficiencies identified in the Brazilian transitional process inhibit the debate and social commitment, hinder the recognition of violence, hold back the symbolization and the collective apprehension of its representations and take their terms to oblivion or revision. Therefore, the representations produced by the measures of transitional justice do not promote the social process of working through the traumatic 11 legacies of the violence committed by the agents of repression during the civil-military dictatorship in Brazil. These conditions keep hindering that the work of memory of such violence emerges as the process of working through the legacies of its trauma. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 13/06039-6 - Coming to terms with past injustices working through its traumatic inheritances: about the public policies of reparation in Brazil
Grantee:Johnny Roberto Rosa
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate