Making Space for Complexity: The Arts and Counter-Narratives of Trauma

Clementine Morrigan


Medical, psychiatric and legal discourses dominate cultural understanding of trauma. These discourses fail to express the complexities of the lived, embodied experience of trauma. They also have the potential to harm survivors. Art, unlike medical, psychiatric and legal discourses, offers space for ambiguity and complexity. Therefore it is conducive to expression of aspects of trauma that are not captured by mainstream discourses. Art produced by trauma survivors is usually valued only for its therapeutic value and is rarely engaged with as knowledge-production, art and culture. Art produced by trauma survivors, if taken seriously, offers an alternate means of ‘knowing’ trauma.


Trauma; Violence; Art; Counter-Narratives; Ambiguity.

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