2RMIT, Melbourne, Australia
The incorporation of trauma theories and therapeutic programs into peacebuilding interventions has been subject of much debate. At a bare minimum, there is now wide recognition that it is inappropriate and insufficient to focus exclusively on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in conflict-affected populations. Good, Good and Hinton (2015) have described how in Aceh the ‘remainders of violence’ are comprised of an array of mental health difficulties and somatic complaints. In Timor-Leste, remainders of violence—dreams, distress, disease, and even further deaths—arise in part from having not appropriately dealt with the remains of violence: the human remains of those who died or went missing during the Indonesian occupation. As James (2015) observed in Haiti, so too in Timor-Leste does the fate of the dead inform a local trauma ontology. Here I take two examples from fieldwork in Timor-Leste to describe how people are addressing the remain(der)s of violence. Looking at female victims participating in an NGO’s ‘trauma healing’ activities, and at state facilitated family reunions of ‘labarik lakon’ (lost or stolen children), I consider how family members’ practices for quieting the spirits of the (assumed or in fact) deceased sit in relation to sometimes divergent interpretations of what contributes to post-conflict healing.