Testimony and Trauma

Engaging Common Ground


This book offers a collection of reflective essays on current testimonial production by researchers and practitioners working in multifaceted fields such as art and film performance, public memorialization, scriptotherapy, and fictional and non-fictional testimony. The inter-disciplinary approach to the question of testimony offers a current account of testimony’s diversity in the twenty-first century as well as its relevance within the fields of art, storytelling, trauma, and activism. The range of topics engage with questions of genre and modes of representation, ethical and political concerns of testimony, and the flaws and limitations of testimonial production giving testament to some of the ethical concerns of our present age. Contributors are Alison Atkinson-Phillips, Olga Bezhanova, Melissa Burchard, Mateusz Chaberski, Candace Couse, Tracy Crowe Morey, Marwa Sayed Hanafy, Rachel Joy, Emma Kelly, Timothy Long, Elizabeth Matheson, Antonio Prado del Santo, Christine Ramsay, Cristina Santos and Adriana Spahr.

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Biographical Note

Cristina Santos, Ph.D. (2001, University of Toronto), is an Associate Professor in Communication, Popular Culture and Film at Brock University. She is the author of Unbecoming Female Monsters: Witches, Vampires and Virgins (2016) and co-editor of Virgin Envy: The Cultural (In)significance of the Hymen (2016).

Adriana Spahr, Ph.D. (2001, University of Toronto), teaches at Brock University as well as Wilfrid Laurier University. She has published articles on testimonial literature, including as co-author of Madre de Mendoza (2013) and co-editor of Virgin Envy: The Cultural (In)significance of the Hymen (2016).

Tracy Crowe Morey, Ph.D. (2007, University of Toronto), teaches Spanish at Ridley College and is a graduate student in Educational Studies at Brock University. She has published articles on women’s testimonial literature and twentieth-century Latin American and Spanish film.

Table of contents

List of Illustration
Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Testimony and Trauma: Engaging Common Ground
Tracy Crowe Morey, Cristina Santos, and Adriana Spahr

Testimony, Time (In)Memorial
1 Material Testimony: Memorials Bearing Witness to Experiences of Loss and Trauma
Alison Atkinson-Phillips
2 Spanish Republicans in the Holocaust: Historical Rights and Testimonial Literature
Antonio Prado del Santo
3 Writing Spain’s Fraught History: Testimony or Fiction?
Olga Bezhanova

Suffer the Children
4 When the Personal Becomes Collective: a Mother’s Re-Membering of a Disappeared Daughter in Madre de Mendoza
Cristina Santos
5 Growing Up in Pain: Children of the Victims of the Argentinean Dictatorship
Adriana Spahr
6 Non-Standard Witness: Lessons from Working with/ for Traumatized Children
Melissa Burchard

Scripts and Performances of Testimony
7 Trauma and Healing in Izzeldin Abuelaish’s I Shall Not Hate
Marwa Sayed Hanafy
8 The ‘Piercing Breach of a Border’: Irish Cinema as a Mediator of Modern Trauma
Emma Kelly
9 Performing Witnesses: Frameworks of Memory in Contemporary Performing Arts
Mateusz Chaberski

Testimonial Embodiments
10 Sick: Negotiating Body Trauma through Visual Art Practice
Candace Couse
11 Very Becoming: Transforming Our Settler Selves in Occupied Australia
Rachel Joy

The Curatorial Turn: Objects, Space, and Frames of Testimony
12 Haunted Geographies in Atom Egoyan’s Calendar and Return to the Flock
Christine Ramsay
13 Atom Egoyan’s Auroras: a Chorus of Witnesses
Timothy Long
14 Immersive Space and the Place of the Witness
Elizabeth Matheson



All interested in the field of testimonial art and literature and public memorialization, and anyone concerned with testimony, readership and reception, trauma studies, human rights, social justice, memory, healing.

Index Card

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