Intermediality in the visualization of peace: contradicting narratives about peace and violence in Timor-Leste

  • Visuals can be effective tools for educating an audience about peacebuilding and the need to engage with a nation's violent past. However, research on visuality has pointed to the ambivalence visuals can develop through audiencing and the dominant political discourse. Building on this, this article argues that ambivalence can also occur between narratives by different media although the same institution produced them, and that such inherent contradictions can limit the institution's effectiveness. The analysis centers upon a case study of the East Timorese Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) that compares the commission's documentary dalan ba dame (“road to peace”) with its final report about peace and the human rights violations committed in the territory between 1975 and 1999. While the commission's final report stresses the individual responsibility of members of the Indonesian military and formulates the need for an institution-based liberal peace, the documentary communicates the message that all parties to the conflict are guilty of committing crimes and that peace has already been created, mitigating the need to further engage with the violent past. The analysis identifies the media's different formats and their different agendas as reasons for the creation of these contradicting messages. Based on an assessment of the dissemination of both media and their reception within the political discourse in Timor-Leste, the implications of these conflicting narratives for educating an international audience are discussed. Since the final report is difficult to access due to its length and its legal language, the documentary remains the more accessible medium to educate an international audience about the nation's violent past. However, due to the narrative it conveys, the documentary's ability to mobilize an international audience is limited. Thus, the article argues for considering three aspects when designing visuals for peace education: the intermediality of visuals with other media and its potential effects concerning the communication of a specific message, the reception of the message by the target audience, and the reception of the message by broader audiences when the visual is distributed online.
Author:Eva Ottendörfer
Parent Title (English):Peace & change
Place of publication:Oxford
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2019/12/30
Date of first Publication:2019/12/30
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2022/03/08
Page Number:23
First Page:78
Last Page:100
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 32 Politikwissenschaft / 320 Politikwissenschaft
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0