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Contributeurs K à Z
Adriana Martins

Tribute to Dr. Denis Mukwege

Adriana Martins

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1Tribute to Dr. Denis Mukwege
As a researcher in the intersection between Culture Studies and Memory Studies, and as a member of a research line dedicated to culture, art and conflict, I felt honored to be invited to participate in the scientific committee of the “War Memories 2020: Sharing War Memories - from the Military to the Civilian” International Conference, and to have had my abstract proposal accepted as a participant eager to discuss the mediation of a diversity of war memories from a comparative perspective. The conference initially planned to take place in June 2020 had to be postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic, but the organizers took the wise decision of maintaining the homage to Dr. Denis Mukwege. A humble tribute that stresses the crucial role this Congolese doctor has played not only to help, heal and protect victims of sexual violence in his country, but also to give them a voice, so that they can address their traumatic memories and rebuild their lives.
In his compelling Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Dr. Mukwege assertively states that “taking action is a choice”, what implies an ethical engagement. Discussing sexual violence among other war memories of so many anonymous women, men and children from different parts of the world, and whose experiences converge on shared pain and suffering paves the way for persuading an increasing number of people to make the choice of taking action and of becoming agents of change in society. But what does it mean taking action in an academic conference? It means, first and foremost, to denounce and discuss what Arjun Appadurai (2006) identifies in the new millennium as a “geography of anger” that mirrors diverse types of violence to downgrade, subject and in some cases to eliminate the “small numbers” (Idem), the “roamers” (Balibar 2018), the “underclass” (Bauman 2011), who are considered “collateral damage” (Bauman Idem) of various types of conflicts, including the ones resulting from a predatory neoliberal globalization that wages unimaginable types of violence in the name of economic and political profit.
What Dr. Mukwege and his team do in Panzi Hospital and through the several initiatives of Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation is, more than helping to heal physical and psychological wounds, to confer human dignity on the victims of sexual violence. In other words, to make them recall they are human beings that have the right to have rights and to claim for them. That is why the action of the Foundation comprises besides a holistic care approach, an attempt to give survivors a voice, so that they will able to claim for repair, leading criminals to be held accountable for their crimes. Dr. Mukwege’s interventions throughout his career have inspired other victims all around the world no matter their condition to break the silence perpetrators and patriarchal models of society have inflicted on them. In a time of mandatory confinement due to the pandemic, when victims of domestic violence are obliged to live with their aggressors, it is fundamental to let them know they are not alone.
I do hope we can honor your mission by taking action in our international conference! Thank you for your work and your courage!
June 30, 2020.

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Adriana Martins, « Tribute to Dr. Denis Mukwege », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], Mélanges en hommage au Pr. Dr. Denis Mukwege, Contributeurs K à Z, mis en ligne le 07 juillet 2020, consulté le 30 septembre 2020. URL :

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Adriana Martins

Universidade Católica Portuguesa/Research Centre for Communication and Culture

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Les contenus de la Revue LISA / LISA e-journal sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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