Added: October 25, 2008 – Last updated: November 5, 2016


Author: Aisha Fofana Ibrahim

Title: War's Other Voices

Subtitle: Testimonies by Sierra Leonean Women

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, Illinois State University

Advisor: Cynthia Huff

Year: 2006

Pages: 230pp.

OCLC Number: 85479355 – Find a Library: WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, 21st Century | African History: Sierra Leonean History | Types: Wartime Rape / Sierra Leone Civil War; Victims: Narrative Studies, Trauma


Link: ProQuest (Restricted Access)



»First, this dissertation is a forum through which I present the oral war testimonies of some Sierra Leonean women. The Sierra Leone civil war lasted for ten years, 1991-2001, and has been described as one of the most brutal wars in recent history. However, women, who played various roles in the conflict, have in current studies been presented mainly as victims and not as active agents of the war. As such, in this dissertation I critically analyze different versions of the war story from women's perspectives, identify gendered divisions of warring, examine the strategies women adopted in testifying, the motives for testifying and the interconnections between testimony, trauma, and memory. I argue that the conventional notions of combatant and home/warfront marginalize the war experiences of most Sierra Leonean women because post war focus has been on reintegrating those who claim combat status, mainly men and children with guns, and not on those who served in various other capacities and survived the war.
Fundamentally, I problematize combat experience by arguing that in contemporary warfare the concepts of war and home fronts are fluid and not static and that there is therefore a need to redefine the category "combatant." In addition, I argue that with regards to trauma, the western psychoanalytical distinction between mental and material traumas often tend to ignore poverty-induced trauma. As such, the concept of post-conflict psychological support, which focuses mainly on rape/war trauma, has not been appropriate or effective in Sierra Leone because the prevalent form of trauma experienced is directly connected to economic survival. Most of the women are traumatized by the violence of living in abject poverty, becoming heads of household and having no homes in which to raise their families. Intrinsically, I center structural violence as a catalyst for the traumas experienced by many of these women.« (Source: ProQuest)


  Acknowledgments (p. i)
  I. Introduction (p. 1)
    Situating Myself (p. 6)
    Historical Background (p. 13)
    Sierra Leonean Women (p. 18)
    The War and After (p. 18)
    The Interviews (p. 21)
      Social Networks (p. 21)
      Place Interviews were Conducted (p. 21)
      Language (p. 22)
      Addressing the Issue of Researcher Power (p. 22)
    The Women in this Study (p. 24)
    Chapter Summaries (p. 30)
  II. Women and the War Story: Redefining “Combat” (p. 33)
    Women Writing the War Story (p. 38)
    The Role of Anthologies in “Voicing” (p. 41)
    Arab Women Writers and the War Story (p. 46)
    Women Who “Talk” (p. 48)
    Redefining Combat (p. 49)
  III. Testimonies: Talking/Writing about the Self (p. 74)
    Language and Translation (p. 77)
    Testitying: Where and Why? (p. 79)
    Testimony as Performance (p. 91)
      The Story Teller (p. 91)
      (Ad)Dress Rehearsal? (p. 99)
  IV. Connecting Testimony, Trauma and Memory (p. 118)
    Trauma (p. 123)
    Trauma and Narrative (p. 141)
    Trauma and Healing (p. 143)
    Trauma and Memory (p. 146)
    Trauma and Reconciliation (p. 150)
  V. Agency and Subjectivity (p. 157)
    Navigating the Terrains of War (p. 159)
    Survival in Postwar Sierra Leone (p. 169)
  VI. Trauma as Pedagogy (p. 182)
    Witnessing Trauma, Subjectivity and Transgressions (p. 182)
    Using Traumatic Testimonies in the Classroom (p. 185)
    Teaching War Testimonies in the Global North (p. 199)
    Teaching in the Global South (p. 202)
    Conclusion (p. 205)
  VII. Conclusion (p. 207)
  Works Cited (p. 216)

Wikipedia: History of Africa: History of Sierra Leone | Types of rape: Wartime sexual violence | War: Sierra Leone Civil War / Rape during the Sierra Leone Civil War