To heal the wounds: Namibian Ovaherero's contests over coming to terms with the German colonial past Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Morgan, Karie L.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
  • This dissertation describes why events of 100 years ago, during the German colonial period, remain so salient for many Ovaherero today as well as what it means to them to come to terms with that past. A national contest emerged about whether and how to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1904-1907 Herero genocide, or war, in Namibia. These commemorations and their planning illustrate some of the social and political context in which restorative justice has proceeded. Fissures among Herero and Namibian communities emerge in the commemorations as well as contests over the production of accounts of the past within Namibia. Different versions of the past circulated within different communities and came into conflict in the context of the commemorations and the broader restorative justice project. These divergent histories all had to be reconciled, even if temporarily, for the purposes of bringing multiple parties together to address an agreed upon past through restorative justice. Remembering for the past for Ovaherero, generally and 1904-1907 in particular, incorporates narratives, embodied memory, and daily practice. Because remembering for Ovaherero makes such use of contemporary contexts of suffering as prompts to talk about the past, remembering the past has much to do with how the past is felt in the present. As some Ovaherero pursued restorative justice with Germany, meanings of these attempts were constantly framed and re-framed and restorative justice ideas were negotiated with Herero understandings of the impact of the past in the present. Finally, I argue that restorative justice as cultural practice produces new social forms—understandings of the past, relationships, and subjectivities. For Ovaherero, this process has created new truths about the past, shaped the role of their ancestors as victims, and focused the forms of violence remembered into those pertinent to claims of genocide.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Anthropology."
  • Wiener, Margaret
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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