Transitional Justice Systems (TJSs) of various kinds have been commonly used since the end of the XXI century to promote reconciliation in the aftermath of conflict, and yet, the aspiration to heal victims' psychological wounds remains elusive. Drawing on Lyotard's philosophy of language and his pragmatics of knowledge, this thesis provides a conceptual and theoretical framework to understand how participation in TJSs enhances posttraumatic distress among some trauma survivors. In this analysis, I show that victim-witnesses appearing before TJSs' legal proceedings produce two basic types of rhetorical structures which are a product of their assimilation of the traumatic experience. In one of these structures, victims' utterances seem to successfully fulfill the roles of witness and victim. In the second form, the storytelling style and language deviate from the norms and expectations of the trial, placing victims at risk of re-traumatization as their narrative style collides with the genre of discourse of the tribunal.
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Thesis advisor: Patton, Cindy
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