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- PublicationMétadonnées seulementContextualising the experience of South African women in the immediate aftermath of rape(2009-1-1)
;Maw, AnastasiaThe psychological impact of rape is most commonly described by drawing on a medical/ psychiatric framework, which feminists have argued fails to factor in the broader contexts of patriarchy and female oppression. Internationally, and in South Africa, feminist researchers have called for more research on rape trauma which seeks to understand the impact of rape in light of the marginalised and oppressive contexts within which particular groups of women live. In response to this need, this article presents a feminist discourse analysis of conversations with nine women living in a low-income area of Cape Town interviewed within 72 hours of being raped. The analysis revealed that the women's narratives of rape were informed by patriarchal discourses which operated to reinforce gendered relations of power. The discourses discussed in the paper are identified as discourses of damage, ostracism, resistance and survival, confessional discourses and discourses of masculinity and femininity. A multitude of cultural scripts informed the discourses drawn upon by the participants, highlighting the heterogeneous, fluid and dynamic nature of the participants' subjectivities and indicating that their relation to such discourses are far from being fixed, stable and unambiguous. Furthermore, the dominant discourses highlighted in the findings are understood to play a binding role in maintaining social structures of power.
- PublicationMétadonnées seulementManifestations of shame in psychotherapeutic dialogues with politically silenced rape survivors in Cape Town, South Africa(2011-5-13)
; ;Maw, AnastasiaSwartz, SallyShame is pervasive, and contagious. Shame is ashamed of itself. Shame activates shame. The mystifying dualism of shame is that it is at once an isolating, intimately intra-psychic phenomenon seeking concealment, yet remains deeply embedded in a visual and public interpersonal space where the self is violently and unexpectedly exposed to the critical gaze of the Other. The source of shame can therefore never be completely in the self or in the Other, but is a rupture of what Kaufman (1989, p. 22) calls the “interpersonal bridge” binding the two. The pervasive and potentially paralysing nature of shame and its particular relevance to a South African research context became no more apparent to me than in the course of interviews that I, as a researcher (white , middle-class) have had with rape survivors (coloured, working-class). This research had as its original aim to delineate the network of discourses in which the rape of women is embedded. However, I have come to understand that our co-constructed shame which permeated the research significantly affected my emotional and intellectual investments, and contoured my interpretations of the narrative which unfolded between myself and the research participants. Such recognition of this noxious affect is especially pertinent in the South African context, marked by a myriad of class, gender and race differentials between researcher and researched. Here, skewed power dynamics continue to mark intellectual relations between researcher and researched (Bennett, 2000) and “deeply entrenched and racialised divisions between communities continue to shape the negotiation of power” (Swartz, 2007, p. 177). Within this context (significantly determined by class formations developed through the formal structures of colonialism and apartheid) shame is inherently linked to the politics of knowledge production and the limitations of our own positionings within such unequal power structures. I attempt not only to understand the role of shame in the research relationship which unfolded, but to consider the way in which it was intrinsically linked to the representations of our multiple and constantly shifting identities within this space, as overtly marked by the “intersectionality” of class, race and gender (Burman, 2006).
- PublicationMétadonnées seulement(Un)imagination and (im)mobility: Exploring the past and constructing possible futures among refugee victims of torture in Greece(2020-1-7)Greece represents a unique context in which to explore the imagination-(im)mobility nexus: both a transit country and final destination for refugees. This article explores the imagination of refugee victims of torture in Athens as they weave together images of the past, present and future to confer meaning to their current situation and imagine new possible futures. In the context of a growing interest in emotions and temporalities linked to migration, the aim of this paper is thus to explore the complex interplay between the imagination of migrants and the trauma from the theoretical standpoint of sociocultural psychology. The paradoxes are multiple: (i) Migration is inherently imaginative, in the sense that the actualisation of migration begins with individuals imagining their destination; (ii) however, trauma related to forced migration experiences in particular may impede imagination. To further add to the complexity: it may be imagination itself which acts as an essential component to healing from trauma. The article explores forced migrants’ mobility choices and individual migration trajectories to provide insight into how the emotionality of subjective experiences, as well as the sociocultural context, are fundamentally involved in people’s plans to migrate and the development of their ever-changing imagination of a better future elsewhere. The results similarly illustrate imagination as being significantly shaped by the collective imaginings of entire communities.
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- PublicationMétadonnées seulementExploring cultural representations of trauma among refugee victims of torture in Athens, Greece(2018-3-3)Background: The mental health impact of atrocities endured by refugees and asylum seekers is clear, with significantly high prevalence rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) being reported among this population. Torture has emerged as a particular triggering factor. However, there have been significant concerns raised in the literature over the relevance and cross-cultural validity of this psychiatric diagnosis for refugee populations Method: In order to explore culturally informed representations and perspectives on trauma among refugee victims of torture, we present the results of 12 months of research among asylum seekers and refugees in a center for victims of torture in Athens. This research includes 125 in-depth, qualitative interviews with beneficiaries (refugee victims of torture), health professionals, cultural mediators/interpreters, and leaders from refugee associations and communities across Athens. The results are illustrated using case studies. Results: The majority of refugee victims of torture appear to contest the medicalised notion of « PTSD » with which they had been diagnosed. When referring to their subjective experiences of trauma, they draw upon a variety of diverse cultural representations of suffering (« explanatory models ») and idioms of distress to explain their subjective experiences of trauma. Conclusion: The research findings highlight the need for psychosocial interventions to incorporate a more culturally contextualised understanding of trauma.
- PublicationMétadonnées seulementExploring culturally-informed representations of trauma among refugee victims of torture in Athens, Greece(2018-7-3)The mental health impact of atrocities endured by refugees and asylum seekers is clear, with significantly high prevalence rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) being reported among this population. Torture has emerged as a particular triggering factor. However, there have been significant concerns raised in the literature over the relevance and cross-cultural validity of this psychiatric diagnosis for refugee populations. Moreover, scholars globally have argued that the location of trauma at the level of the individual in the form of a PTSD diagnosis neglects the broader socio-political and cultural context within which trauma manifests. In order to explore culturally informed representations and perspectives on trauma among refugee victims of torture, we present the results of 12 months of research among asylum seekers and refugees in a center for victims of torture in Athens. This research includes 125 in-depth, qualitative interviews with beneficiaries (refugee victims of torture), health professionals, cultural mediators/interpreters, and leaders from refugee associations and communities across Athens. The results are illustrated using case studies. The majority of refugee victims of torture appear to contest the medicalised notion of « PTSD » with which they had been diagnosed. When referring to their subjective experiences of trauma, they draw upon a variety of diverse cultural representations of suffering (« explanatory models ») and idioms of distress to explain their subjective experiences of trauma. The research findings highlight the need for psychosocial interventions to incorporate a more culturally contextualised understanding of trauma.
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- PublicationMétadonnées seulement“Crying makes your story more believable”: The use of PTSD by asylum seekers and health professionals within the asylum process(2018-10-26)Asylum seekers entering into Europe are often obliged to tell their story to multiple actors (often with a focus on the ‘trauma narrative’) in order to be legally recognized as refugees. Lacking alternative evidence, many attempt to prove their ‘well-founded fear’ and the violence to which they have been exposed through a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the literature highlights the risk of PTSD becoming a ‘pre-requisite’ for validating the experiences of asylum seekers, reifying and reducing these experiences to a diagnosis in order to render accounts believable. To categorize an asylum seeker with PTSD is therefore ‘an act of meaning making,’ entrenched in the habits and discursive practices of medical and legal institutions with very concrete social, material and legal consequences. To explore this, we present the results of a yearlong research projects among asylum seekers diagnosed with PTSD as well as their treating health professionals (including doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists) in a center for victims of torture in Athens, Greece. We analyze the use of the category of PTSD by various actors, notably as factor influencing the decision-making process and the exercise of discretion during the refugee status determination process. The analysis reveals the multiple contradictions in how the various actors involved (including lawyers, bureaucrats, health professionals and the asylum seekers themselves) use this diagnostic construct. We highlight the substantial differences in understanding the diagnosis reflecting existing power imbalances, the way in which narratives of trauma may be purposefully ‘rehearsed’ for the tribunal, and the tensions surrounding the sharing of the trauma narrative within this activity-system.
- PublicationMétadonnées seulementSocio-ecological explorations of resilience among refugee victims of torture in Athens, Greece(2018-6-19)The dual trauma inherent in being both a victim of torture as well a refugee is related to a myriad of losses, human rights violations and other dimensions of suffering. Furthermore, a plethora of research has demonstrated the psychological impact of discrimination and racism experienced by migrants upon arrival to the host country (Akhtar, 1999; Hollander et al., 2016; Kartal & Kiropoulos, 2016). Such research highlights how “racial trauma” (Tummala-Nara, 2007) can have a profound impact on an individual’s sense of self, identity formation, and relationships with others. However, focusing too heavily on trauma risks pathologizing individuals, thereby ignoring wider socio-ecological contexts and denying aspects of resilience. This paper explores resilience as it is experienced by refugees in the context of a relational community (Eades, 2013). Resilience here is considered essentially as a social and environmental attribute (Lusk & Baray, 2017), the capacity of a person’s “informal and formal social networks to facilitate positive development under stress” (Ungar, 2013, p.1). In order to explore trauma and resilience among refugee victims of torture, we present the results of 12 months of research among refugees in a centre for victims of torture in Athens. This research includes 125 in-depth, qualitative interviews with victims of torture, health professionals, cultural mediators/interpreters, and leaders from refugee communities. Case studies illustrate the substantial psychological impact of current material realities of refugee victims of torture as they adapt to their new environment and confront discrimination, and the variety of resources they draw upon to build resilience. Using a socio-ecological framework (Sleijpen, Mooren, Kleber, & Boeije, 2017), we explore the strategies used by this population in order to discuss additional insights of an interpersonal and communal perspective for the growing field of research regarding resilience after traumatic experiences.
- PublicationMétadonnées seulement«En Afrique, aller voir le psychologue, je n’ai jamais entendu ça»: interprétations croisées du psycho-traumatisme entre médiateurs culturels, professionnels de santé et réfugiés victimes de torture à AthènesMalgré la prévalence élevée d’état de stress post-traumatique, ou SSPT (Syndrome de Stress Post-Traumatique) diagnostiqué chez les réfugiés, d’importantes critiques ont été soulevées quant à sa pertinence comme construction diagnostique, notamment au plan interculturel. En outre, la collaboration entre les professionnels en santé mentale et les réfugiés se heurte fréquemment aux barrières linguistiques et culturelles, ce qui accroît les risques d’incompréhension. Le médiateur culturel joue dans cet espace un rôle clef de mise en dialogue des conceptions et interprétations variées de la souffrance et du trouble mental entre les réfugiés et les professionnels de santé. Afin d’explorer la diversité des perspectives des réfugiés, des professionnels de santé et des médiateurs culturels sur le traumatisme, nous présentons les analyses issues d’un travail de recherche de douze mois auprès d’ONG travaillant à Athènes, en Grèce, avec des réfugiés victimes de torture. Nos analyses se centrent sur la manière dont les réfugiés victimes de torture vivent et qualifient leur traumatisme ; la construction des représentations, des pratiques et des normes concernant les troubles mentaux dans l’interaction avec les professionnels de santé ; et la façon dont divers acteurs se représentent, comprennent et utilisent une construction diagnostique telle que le SSPT. Notre recherche souligne la nécessité d’une compréhension plus nuancée et contextualisée du traumatisme, comme étant influencée de façon déterminante par des systèmes culturels et des contextes sociaux, économiques et historiques plus vastes.