Conceptions, Methodologies, Approaches and Practices of Healing: A Mapping Research Proposal

This proposed research is part of a UNESCO/GHFP Project entitled ‘Healing the Wounds of Slavery’ that seeks to contribute to healing the wounds left by trans-Atlantic slavery and address some of its psycho-social, economic and political consequences. The research arose from the discussions held during an international symposium jointly convened by UNESCO Slave Route Project and GHFP Research Institute in October 2018, in partnership with the Berkley Center at Georgetown University. The event was attended by 35 global specialists who reflected on trans-Atlantic slavery histories, and considered the continued dehumanisation, injustice and discrimination endured by generations of African Americans in the Caribbean and Americas. It also examined some emergent approaches to healing the wounds of slavery. Drawing on additional recommendations from previous meetings organized by UNESCO and its partners, (eg. the workshop the on “The Psychological consequences of Slave Trade and Slavery” held in Toronto in November 2010, and the International Colloquium on “Slavery: What Impact on Populations?” organized in October 2016 in Martinique), among other points, the symposium highlighted the need for a better understanding of healing and of relevant healing approaches and practices.

With the objective to map out the diverse conceptions and methodologies of healing mass traumas such as genocide and slavery, this research locates the inquiry around the contextualised question: “What might constitute healing (in the context of the wounds of trans-Atlantic slavery)?”

This research aimed to conceptualise, collect and compare diverse experiences and practices of healing relevant mass traumas. It aims at building a common understanding of meanings and dimensions of healing, and defining methodologies and approaches most relevant and best suitable for the healing processes in the Caribbean and Americas. Step One is especially mindful of the imperative to distinguish between healing, reconciliation and justice, and to stress linkages among them.