From 2009-2012, the Coalition partnered with victims groups and leading human rights and media organizations to develop memory projects to promote civic participation in post-conflict peace and reconciliation efforts. The organization trained local human rights activists to use body-mapping as a tool for site-based memory, trauma healing and reconciliation programs. The project was hailed by former Liberian Truth Commission members as a critical step in implementing the TRC’s recommendations for memorialization. The impact of the Coalition’s work in Liberia was reflected in the invitation to the Coalition’s Dr. Ereshnee Naidu Silverman to serve as a keynote speaker, as well as facilitate the memorialization workshop at the 2009 National Reconciliation Conference, organized by the Liberian TRC and held in Virginia, Liberia. The Virginia Conference brought together victims and perpetrators from 15 counties to discuss a range of TRC-related recommendations, and a national vision for Liberia.

Body-maps are life-size representations of a human body upon which survivors write and draw their experiences of trauma and conflict, providing a safe way for them to explore their histories and express these histories to each other and to a wider public. Survivors are encouraged to also include in their body-maps a representation of their future, imagining new possibilities for themselves. The resulting art pieces can then be displayed and used to spur dialogue among survivors and other community members, facilitating an exchange of perspectives – a mechanism for reconciliation – and connecting the struggles depicted in the bodymaps to social issues and collective narratives that may be absent from official accounts of conflict.

Funders: Compton Foundation, Fetzer Institute