Greetings to all of our colleagues in the Historical Justice and Memory Network! We are happy to present the Spring 2017 Issue of our series of unpublished papers on issues of historical dialogue, historical and transitional justice, and public and social memory. This season’s working paper is brought to us by Ross Westoby, who is contributing an article, “Creating Safety, Finding Voice, and Remembering: Local NGOs Work Towards Dealing with Cambodia’s Legacies Through Non-Judicial and Social Processes of Dialogue and Restoring Cultural Memory.” We encourage you to add your own comments and questions. Thanks for reading!
We are currently taking submissions for the 2017-2018 Working Paper Series. If you are interested in publishing a paper in our series, please email co-editors Michelle Bellino and Cathlin Goulding at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In most post-conflict societies research and policy makers working in transitional justice tend to err on the side of judicial processes within the available ‘toolkit’. This article seeks to counter this over-emphasis on judicial processes as the panacea for transitional justice by documenting the various non-judicial approaches taking place in Cambodia under the direction of local Cambodian NGOs. The article explores the current situation in Cambodia in respect to the past. I argue that this past is still very much being lived in the present. I then frame the research within the context of the transitional justice and trauma recovery fields and outline my methodology. The diverse approaches of dialogue and restoring cultural memory undertaken by local NGOs in Cambodia are then documented. Drawing on the trauma recovery literature I argue the processes of establishing safety, reconstructing the trauma story and restoring a connection between the survivor and their community through dialogue and cultural memory can allow for effective ways of dealing with the past. I argue that the trauma recovery literature can be reframed and this allows for grassroots approaches that engage people in recovery in the social setting that greatly enhances the field of transitional justice “from below.”
Ross Westoby holds a PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies from the School of Political Science and International Studies (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia). Ross has worked for community NGOs, universities and as a consultant in international development. Westoby’s research interests lie at the nexus of environmental and human-induced tragedies, the impact they have on people, and how to build resilience and heal following their cessation. Westoby currently works as an innovation, performance, and evaluation worker for a local NGO in Australia who work with people experiencing homelessness, mental health issues, and people with histories of institutional and historical abuse.