This paper explores the discourse of refugee trauma, analysing ways the displaced, the state, and mental health practitioners think about displacement and other war traumas. Narratives were obtained via in-depth qualitative interviews with displaced Greek Cypriots, newspaper accounts and press releases by elected officials, and through an examination of assumptions and practices of the traditional, medical model. Following a discussion of a range of epistemologies regarding the meaning of displacement, the authors offer a systemic epistemology for practitioners and activists interested in an alternative to the current ontology of fear and insecurity dominating our everyday institutions and social relations. In deconstructing the narratives of traumatisation, the authors suggest that dichotomous, essentialised, and atomistic understandings of self and other, displacement, nation, and health sustain in place “unhealthy” conditions that precipitate further traumatisation. Instead of pills and ethno-nationalist interpretations, the therapeutic witnessing of family dialogues around trauma is suggested for the facilitation of a process that relinquishes the desire to set it “right” and makes room for listening to our restless dead about another mode of living, a current struggle for peace, truth and justice.
epistemologies, refugee, trauma, discourse, displacement, affect, systemic, mental health
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