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Victims, the state and institutional processes: a multidisciplinary view – until October 31, 2015

Editors: José Manuel Mendes, Pedro Araújo and Ângela Maia

The deadline for submission is October 31, 2015

Between 2011 and 2014, the Centre for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra hosted a research project entitled “TRAUMA - Victims, Trauma and Institutional Processes: beyond the victim ethic”, coordinated by José Manuel Mendes,

The central question in the research was to determine whether social changes have led to discourses on victims and victim support mechanisms serving nowadays as a legitimate means of gaining access to the public arena and claiming rights. In addressing the visible face of an expanding phenomenon, it was a question that also implied engaging with the way in which the victimhood is managed and how rights are claimed by people who, despite being members of trauma communities, remain outside the reach of conventional support mechanisms.

The initial premise was that understanding the reasons for involvement in conventional forms of association, including what makes this sociologically possible and individually necessary, is as important as the reverse, i.e. the reasons underlying the option to resort to alternative ways of managing trauma which exist in communities. In addition to the discourses and mechanisms constructed and proposed by victims’ associations and consolidated within a particular “victim ethic”, what other rationales for subjectivation emerge and what are their material, symbolic and political presuppositions?

Adopting a comparative perspective to investigate the emerging differences, the research sought to understand, through an analysis of different cases in France and Portugal, how states regulate and respond to the challenges posed by disasters and catastrophes and the presence of victims and their families in the public arena.

The contacts established with victims’ associations in the two countries led to the realisation that what was more productive in theoretical and epistemological terms and more important than constructing a genealogy of the concept of the victim, was to understand how the different actors in the field - ranging from the state, private enterprise, the victims, their families and their representatives - circumscribe or normalise the impact of the status of victim in citizenship policies or, in the case of victims and their associations, how the condition of victim leads to the configuration of a logic of citizenship and access to rights.

It also led to the realisation that, in addition to the conventional mechanisms for analysing the processes of victimhood, it is also important to understand how a phenomenology of disaster, including issues associated with suffering and the body, allows for an analysis of the production of social and collective bonds, very often emerging through campaigns and claims for rights, but also through silence, recollection or remembrance.

This issue of e-cadernos ces is open to contributions which analyse problems associated with the theme of victims, trauma, coping, remembrance, victims’ associations, public policies and legal provisions for victims.

E-cadernos ces is a peer-reviewed, online and entirely open access journal, published by the Center for Social Studies in Coimbra. The journal is currently indexed in CAPES, EBSCO and Latindex. For more information about this publication see

Texts should be presented in final version, Portuguese, English, Spanish, or French. Manuscripts must not exceed 60,000 characters (with spaces), including notes and references. For the final section @cetera, other manuscripts may be submitted (up to 35,000 characters), such as interviews and discussions (up to 25,000 characters) or book reviews (up to 5,000 characters).

Detailed guidelines for submitting texts are available at Manuscripts should be sent by email to and authors should clearly identify the thematic issue in question – “Victims, the state and institutional processes: a multidisciplinary view”.

All manuscripts will go through a blind peer review process.

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