1 Jun 2017

Collective Trauma and Resilience: Key Concepts in Transforming War-related Identities

Berghof Handbook Dialogue Series No. 11 - comment

This contribution was inspired by Berghof Handbook Dialogue issue no. 11, “Transforming War-related Identities. Individual and Social Approaches to Healing and Dealing with the Past” (Austin/Fischer 2016). It offers an additional perspective on transforming-war related identities in the context of protracted violent conflicts.


Cordula Reimann, Ursula König


We propose that a broader discussion of the terms collective trauma and resilience is needed in the field of conflict transformation, in order to fully grasp the complexities involved in transforming war-related identities. At the same time, we aim at showing that collective traumata constitute specific obstacles for transformation and that a deeper understanding of them will help to sharpen our understanding of what needs to happen in order to be able to transform war-related identities.

The comment is structured as follows: First, we discuss our underlying assumptions on collective trauma, putting forward the key insights from Berghof Handbook Dialogue 11. Second, we introduce working definitions of the concepts of collective trauma and resilience in the context of war-torn societies. The comment concludes with pointers for further research into collective trauma and resilience, which can strengthen the field of conflict transformation.

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