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Gendered Spaces of Terror and Assault: The Testimonio of REMHI and the Commission for Historical Clarification in Guatemala

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Abstract:

On 25 February 1999, Guatemalans received the much anticipated report of the United Nations-sponsored Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH), Memory of Silence, which detailed wartime atrocities and decades-long American support of the Guatemalan army. This document followed the earlier release of the Catholic church's own REMHI report (Recuperation of Historical Memory Inter-diocesan Project), Guatemala: never again. Using the recently released reports and databases of the CEH and REMHI, we explore the significant use of testimonio as a tool of shared witnessing, collective remembrance, and individual recollection of the special brutality directed against Maya women. Through testimonio, the outcomes of visible and invisible terror and violence in Guatemala are articulated as personal, social and geographic spaces of terror, all of which are gendered and racialised. With the civil war officially over, Maya women of Guatemala see the spaces of terror diminish. Given debates over testimonio, however, the grounds for assault and denial remain fertile.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09663690050130507

Publication date: September 1, 2000

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