Memories as weapons: the politics of peace and silence in post-civil war Mozambique

Igreja, Victor (2008) Memories as weapons: the politics of peace and silence in post-civil war Mozambique. Journal of Southern African Studies, 34 (3). pp. 539-556. ISSN 0305-7070


Political and legal debates over the value of official silence in the aftermath of civil wars are inconclusive. On the one hand, official silence is considered disrespectful to the memory of the victims and an impediment to establishing a culture of accountability and respect for human rights. On the other, silence is regarded as instrumental to achieving peace. Yet, longitudinal analysis of the dynamics of official silence in Mozambique demonstrates that, in this post-conflict country, as in others, silence has not in fact been achieved. Official silence in politically pluralistic environs can also offer opportunities for political elites to use memories as weapons to settle accounts with former wartime foes. In post-civil war Mozambique, Frelimo and Renamo over time have moved away from the initial strategy of official quiescence. Both parties appropriated the official silence to wage fierce political battles where memories of the violent past are used as the principal weapon. The interruption of silence through manipulative appropriations of the grisly past take place in dispersed political activities; however, the most confrontational and violent eruptions of memory occur in the Mozambican national parliament. These political confrontations signal the necessity in this politically pluralistic society for complex readings of memory against the prevailing monolithic official history.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Humanities and International Studies
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2018 06:41
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2018 23:42
Fields of Research : 16 Studies in Human Society > 1606 Political Science > 160699 Political Science not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1080/03057070802259720

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