Invitation to special seminar with Shari Eppel

eppelShari Eppel, Director of the Solidarity Peace Trust, will speak on 'Healing the Dead: The need for lateral thinking in the fields of peace-building and transitional justice in Zimbabwe', October 16, 5pm, Seminar Room 2, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road

Shari Eppel is a leading human rights researcher in Zimbabwe. She is author of the groundbreaking study Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace: A report on the disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands, 1980-1988, as well as many reports concerned with post-2000 violence for the Solidarity Peace Trust. Her work has directly addressed questions of post-violence healing and transitional justice. The seminar will focus on the exhumation of victims of political violence as a means of healing and form of reparation. See further details


‘…the process of healing, does not occur through the delivery of an object (e.g. a pension, a monument etc) but through the process that takes place around the object. It is how the individual processes the symbolic meaning of reparations that is critical.'(Brandon Hamber, Repairing the irreparable, CSVR, Johannesburg, 1997.)

Exhumations are a form of reparation, and we believe that they provide a unique context for healing processes after State violence. What western psychotherapy does ‘metaphorically’, exhumations do in ‘actuality’ – they dig up the past so that psychological, emotional and historical truths can be acknowledged, shared, and laid to rest in a way that all agree is healing.

This discussion will include a DVD that recounts the exhumation of a young man murdered by the national army’s 5th Brigade in 1984 and exhumed for reburial in 2001. It explores the interactions with the family for over a year prior to the exhumation until after the reburial. The differences in therapeutic approaches in Western psychology and in the Zimbabwean setting will be discussed, as will the need for processes in Zimbabwe to be community driven and not imposed from other cultural perspectives as the nation (hopefully) moves towards a more open democratic space in which peace building and truth telling may be possible.

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