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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-17

Not Talking About Traumatic Experiences: Harmful or Healing? Coping with war memories in southwest Uganda

community psychiatric nurse and medical anthropologist, is working on her PhD thesis on “Sexual violence in the context of armed conflict and post-conflict situations: meaning production and health strategies among refugee women in the Netherlands” at the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands

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Although there has been peace in most parts of Uganda since 1986, in Mbarara district in southwest Uganda nobody talks about their war experience; there is one big conspiracy of silence. According to the people who live there, it is not good to talk, it can be dangerous and can make you ill. This article deals with the question why these people keep silent about their horrifying war experiences. It appears that the community and the social and cultural institutions have been destroyed. People have no public space to share their memories of the war. Together with the economic, political and psychological aspects, this all contributes to a situation in which keeping silent might be the best thing to do.

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