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Constructing Meaning from Disappearance: Local Memorialisation of the Missing in Nepal

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JournalInternational Journal of Conflict and Violence
DatePublished - 2014
Issue number1
Volume8
Pages (from-to)104–118
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Disappearance in conflict creates challenges of identity and meaning for the families of those whose fate remains unknown: women, for example, who do not
know if they are wives or widows and desperately seek to construct positive meanings from their experience. This empirical study of the families of those disappeared
during Nepal’s Maoist insurgency focuses on processes of local memorialisation and post-conflict politics of memory in rural areas and on how and
why victims seek certain forms of recognition and memorialisation, including their psychosocial motivations. The means of memorialisation chosen by families
of the missing served to confirm in a highly social way that the disappeared are missing not dead, and sought to integrate stigmatised families into communities
from which they had been alienated by violations. Memorialisation can strengthen the resilience of families of the missing; as a social process, it addresses
both the emotional and the social impacts of disappearance. Remembering the disappeared in ways that can aid the well-being of the families left
behind demands local approaches that are contextualised in the cultural and social worlds of impacted communities: this challenges memorialisation, and
transitional justice processes more broadly, that emerge exclusively from institutional processes directed by elites.

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