Between Western Theory and Local Practice: Cultural Impediments to Truth-Telling in Sierra Leone

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Although Truth Commissions are thought to provide healing and justice in postwar situations, some scholars worry that such mechanisms emerge from Western theories which may be inapplicable in many cultural settings. Based on an ethnographic study of local experiences of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Sierra Leone, this article describes how local cultural dynamics determine whether truth-telling is experienced as predicted by peacebuilding theory. I argue that the variability of such dynamics, which create unique local conceptual constructs and norms, will often militate against the application of truth-telling processes, and that this was clearly the case in Sierra Leone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-199
Number of pages22
JournalConflict Resolution Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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