The East African School of Diplomacy, Governance and International Studies
Department of Good Governance and Peace Studies
Theme: Whose Community? Memory, Conflict and Tradition
Topic: Conflict and formation of memory
Paper Title: “Identity Formation after Conflict: Unhealed Memories in Framing the Future of the Society”
A Seminar paper by:
Katwesigye Doreen (2011-M161-10004)
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One of the foremost issues why there are threat perceptions, ethnic security dilemmas and lack of trust between nationalist and ethnic groups is the unhealed memories that have been inflicted on people’s identity after conflicts. And most of these conflicts have been as a result of intergroup clustering which leads to social identity, and this asserts strong in-group sympathies giving rise to out-group antipathies which in turn fuel intolerance. This paper therefore looks at how the unhealed memories have influenced individuals and social groups in framing the future of the society
Key words: conflict, memory, society, unhealed memory, identity formation.
One of the most important lessons to be drawn from the world wide politics of the late twentieth and twenty-first century is that many people of different ethnicities cannot, or will not, live together in peace. Peace has remained elusive (Noll 2011). In Rwanda the antagonism between Hutus and Tutsis lingers, Religious suspicion continues to manifest itself among the Roman Catholics and Protestants. Meanwhile in the Balkans, Serbs, Croatians and Bosnians all want to exterminate each other. As for the Jews and Palestinians, they are locked in an unresolved inevitable death dance. Such intergroup intolerance, hatred, and conflict seem to engulf wide parts of the world.
Who then is the culprit that accounts for this enmity? Numerous causes of group conflicts exist, but one factor that seems to link the many varieties of such strife is identity formation among individuals and groups. The root cause hostility may be strong peculiar group identification or identity formation and the many attitudes, values, and behaviors that flow from such attachments. In particular, the primal urge to feel part of a group or class of people, seems to be connected to an even more fundamental tendency to understand the other as different, often threatening, and therefore worthy of persecution (Seligman 2004). The root causes of intergroup conflict may therefore lie in the tendency of individuals to benefit psychologically from their group associations. Such societies from conflicts or with conflicts are characterised of problems like luck of shelter, food, water, poor security, diseases e.t.c but much as these societies have these problems, unhealed memories have become the most spear heading trouble and so becoming the main concern of this thesis.
Conflict discourse in identity formation
In understanding conflict as a struggle or contest between people with opposing needs, ideas, beliefs, values, or goals, its outcome can not be fully predetermined. Conflict might escalate and lead to nonproductive results, or beneficial to the final product quality. Mayer (2000) views conflict as occurring along perception, feeling, and action. These different dimensions may help understand how complex conflict is and why conflict seems to proceed in contradicting directions. Thus, it may either be manifest or recognizable through actions or latent behavior (Christopher 2005). Similarly, (Wallensteen 2002) identifies some forms of conflict like interstate conflicts that happen between nation-states, internal conflicts and state-formation conflicts which include civil and ethnic wars, secessionist movements, anti-colonial struggles and battles over control of government. Aware of these, it can be said that in every society there are bound to be differences of...