Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 620–640 | Cite as

Remembering Collective Violence: Broadening the Notion of Traumatic Memory in Post-Conflict Rehabilitation

  • Ruth KeversEmail author
  • Peter Rober
  • Ilse Derluyn
  • Lucia De Haene
Original Paper


In the aftermath of war and armed conflict, individuals and communities face the challenge of dealing with recollections of violence and atrocity. This article aims to contribute to a better understanding of processes of remembering and forgetting histories of violence in post-conflict communities and to reflect on related implications for trauma rehabilitation in post-conflict settings. Starting from the observation that memory operates at the core of PTSD symptomatology, we more closely explore how this notion of traumatic memory is conceptualized within PTSD-centered research and interventions. Subsequently, we aim to broaden this understanding of traumatic memory and post-trauma care by connecting to findings from social memory studies and transcultural trauma research. Drawing on an analysis of scholarly literature, this analysis develops into a perspective on memory that moves beyond a symptomatic framing toward an understanding of memory that emphasizes its relational, political, moral, and cultural nature. Post-conflict memory is presented as inextricably embedded in communal relations, involving ongoing trade-offs between individual and collective responses to trauma and a complex negotiation of speech and silence. In a concluding discussion, we develop implications of this broadened understanding for post-conflict trauma-focused rehabilitation.


Collective violence Trauma PTSD Memory Rehabilitation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Unit Education, Culture and Society, Faculty of Psychology and Educational SciencesKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Institute of Family and Sexuality Studies, KU LeuvenUPC KU LeuvenKortenbergBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Centre for the Social Study of Migration and RefugeesUGentGentBelgium

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