Retrieving psychosocial signs of structural violence in postcolonial Jamaica


Physical and psychological assaults on group life wound not only community well-being but, also, individual subject formation, altering the way people think, feel and act. In this paper, reference is made to an emblematic human rights violation in postcolonial Jamaica in which at least 76 civilians were killed by the state. In an oral history project, 26 inner city community residents who survived state violence and endured collective trauma memorialize loved ones lost but they do not break historical silences about the meaning of the event. In order to retrieve psychosocial signs of structural violence I use diacritical hermeneutics as an analytic tool and interpretive method to describe possible meanings of oral history participants’ speech and silences. This approach is proposed as a method through which radical community psychologists may excavate unarticulated experiences and latent meanings of social suffering. Knowledge generated by such interpretive voice-centered methodologies may support diagnoses of social suffering leading to the development of praxes that promote healing and, ultimately, the restoration of community well-being.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i24212113v2i2p114

Keywords: structural violence, psychosocial studies, diacritical hermeneutics, subjectivity, postcolonial Jamaica


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