Recovering from War

Reading such a heart-wrenching book as A Long Way Gone in class presents a difficult teaching dilemma: where do we go from here? It’s so depressing that my gut reaction is a desire to turn away from the subject altogether, to find something happier to discuss.

Turning away, of course, is a possibility for those of us on the other side of the world. It isn’t a possibility for those like—but even less lucky than—Ishmael Beah (who was fortunate enough to get a book deal), or Blood Diamond’s Solomon (who ends the movie having gotten his family out of the country).

So this led me to a question: how did they move on from such a tragedy?

It seems to me there are two parts to this.

  • How did the individuals affected by the violence attempt to heal?
  • How did the country as a whole attempt to recover and move on?

We’re going to look at these two questions by examining some different conflicts around the world. You will be assigned a partner, and a conflict from the list below. You will create and deliver a powerpoint presentation, and turn in an annotated bibliography. The focus of your presentation will be these questions:

  1. What was the conflict, and how was it resolved?
  2. What groups were affected, and how?
  3. What was done to help individuals and families recover?
  4. What was the focus of nation-building afterward?
  5. What sort of ethical implications did that war have?

This project is due on November 2. Presentations will begin on November 5.

Here’s the list:

  • Sudan (1983-2002, 2004-?)
  • Cote d’Ivoire (2002-?)
  • Ethiopia-Eritrea (1998-2000)
  • Yugoslavian wars (1992-1996)
  • Liberian civil war (1989-?)
  • Sri Lanka (1983-?)
  • Mozambique (1977-?)
  • Lebanon (1975-1987)
  • Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (1972-1979)
  • IRA-Northern Ireland’s (1969-2002)
  • Columbia (1966-?)
  • Indonesia (1965-66)
  • El Salvador (1979-1992)
  • Khmer Rouge, Cambodia (1975-1979)
  • Laos (1975-87)
  • Angola (1975-2002)
  • Australian frontier wars (1788-1930s)*
  • Boer Wars (1880-1881, 1899-1902)*

Here are examples of sources that could help us come to a discussion of the aftermath of the conflict in Sierra Leone:

Turning to art (BBC) *** Four years after (BBC) *** Ten years after (from *** Post-conflict care (Red Cross UK) *** Election ( *** Save the Children link


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