Robin Hoecker, Northwestern University, robi...@u.northwestern.edu
In the past 50 years, more than 40 countries have created “truth and reconciliation” commissions to deal with historical atrocities and injustices. A critical step in this process is the gathering of witness testimonies. The stories of these witnesses are then appropriated and re-told as “cautionary tales,” with the intention of preventing future atrocities. But what happens when these stories are told outside of their original context? Iconic photographs are perfect examples of how individual stories come to symbolize much more than the subject’s individual experience. This paper takes as an example one victim’s story and how his image was used by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Peru to visually represent two decades of political violence. It looks at the role of photography in the reconciliation process and what happens when the subjects of those photographs speak for themselves.