We live in an age of testimony: from the metoo movement to Black Lives Matter, personal stories of adversity have been central to movements seeking to bring an end to violence and discrimination. Testimony is about remembrance and conveying experience, but it is also about recognition – the demand that society acknowledge ‘this happened to me and it was wrong’. But for it to have this effect, testimony must have an audience willing to listen. It is here that art and culture come centre stage. Survivors, artists and activists retell traumatic experiences in different cultural forms, from the collection of video testimonies to the production of theatre. Sometimes these are their own stories, sometimes they are the stories of others; sometimes the accounts are delivered verbatim, sometimes they are interwoven with newly created parts.
In this talk, Professor Sara Jones explores a selection of these retellings and consider in particular the ethical implications of this practice and the boundaries between fact and fiction, drawing on her experience of collaborating with artists, producers of theatre and writers who produce and reproduce testimony in their work.