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Between Trauma and Resilience

A Transnational Reading of Women's Life Writing about Wartime Rape in Germany and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Agatha Schwartz and Tatjana Takševa

Abstract

This article discusses the personal narratives (both published and personal interviews collected for the purpose of this study) of female survivors of wartime rape in post–World War II Germany and postconflict Bosnia and Herzegovina. The authors examine how the women succeed in finding their words both for and beyond the rupture caused by the rapes through examples of life writing that challenge the dominant masculinist historical narrative of war created for ideological reasons and for the benefit of the nation-state. Using theories of trauma and insights by feminist scholars and historians, the authors argue that a transnational reading of survivors’ accounts from these very different geopolitical and historical contexts not only shows multiple points of mutual influence, but also how these narratives can make a significant contribution, both locally and globally, when it comes to revisiting how wartime rape is memorialized, and how lessons learned from the two contexts can be relevant and applicable in other situations of armed conflict as well.