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Negative emotions as a sense of injustice

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
The purpose of this thesis is two-fold: a) to examine the role of negative emotions in post-conflict societies; and b) to make a case for anger, resentment, and grief as legitimate moral emotions, and as agentic spaces in the moral and educational domains. Drawing on the example of the mothers of false positives in Colombia, the thesis explores how anger, resentment, and grief can enable survivors of post-conflict societies to mobilize themselves and their communities from their experience of injustice towards moral and political action. The general apprehension surrounding the negative emotions comes from an assumption that only negative outcomes can come from negative emotions. Therefore, rather than welcoming them in all their complexity, people and communities are encouraged to move on from their injuries and negative emotions. Further, the prevailing emphasis on rationality in moral and political discourses rests on an assumption that if we allow emotions to enter the political conversation, we won't be able to anchor the debate on objective standards of measure, and the conversation will become merely subjective. As a result, emotions, and negative emotions in particular, have tended to be overlooked in political discourse. Of course, no amount of engaging with the negative emotions will erase the pain and suffering of the survivors, but denying or suppressing those emotions, or leaving it up to the individuals who experience them to deal with them, could have unintended consequences, such as laying the groundwork for new conflicts to emerge. The thesis therefore attempts to make a case for moving beyond the binary of negative versus positive in our understanding of emotions, and for recognizing that, even within the so-called negative emotions, there are positive agentic features that could help individuals and their communities move away from their experiences of injustice.
151 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Chinnery, Ann
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