The Project

“Hidden Voices” is a multi-partner project which investigates how conflict shapes experiences of trauma and marginalization. The project is led by Dr Rebekka Friedman of King’s College London who was been awarded a 2-year ESRC Future Research Leaders grant to carry out the research.

Using Sri Lanka and Colombia as case studies the aim of Hidden Voices is to bring to the fore less visible everyday processes and experiences of violence and transition exploring innovative processes of healing.  It pays attention to voices that are often not heard in transitional justice research, particularly women who participated in or were directly affected by combat, focusing on former cadres, war widows and internally displaced populations. The questions that lie at the heart of the project are:

  • How does militarization and protracted conflict shape experiences of trauma and marginalization?
  • How and why do women’s stories become silenced or elevated in militarized settings?
  • To what extent are women’s stories incorporated into collective recovery processes?


The key goals of this project are:

  1. To evaluate how protracted conflict and militarization shape individual and collective experiences of trauma and marginalization.
  2. To examine the politics of visibility and invisibility among formal and informal transitional justice and recovery mechanisms in contexts of militarization and protracted conflict.
  3. To assess the goals, scope and constraints facing transitional justice in contexts of militarization and protracted conflict.
  4. To examine the extent to which informal and formal transitional justice processes facilitate collective processes of healing and recovery and benefit marginalized groups.
  5. To identify and give a space to voices that are often not heard in transitional justice research, particularly female combatants and family members of missing persons.
  6. To further develop conceptual understandings of the link between trauma, gender, marginalization and militarization.
  7. To further develop a transformative understanding of reconciliation in protracted conflicts that could provide space for marginalized and especially gendered stakeholders.
  8. To document the experiences and needs of war-affected marginalized women, particularly, ex-combatants, widows and internally displaced peoples
  9. To document the contribution of informal community healing mechanisms
  10. To contribute to the development of best practices in the use of visual documentation in international relations research through the integration of film and photography.

My research is based on interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, participant observation, visual documentation and everyday conversation and immersion. The aim of the project is to produce academic publications as well as impact-driven outputs and activities that will benefit the communities under study. My research works close with local communities and takes an embedded approach that gives voice to those who may be marginalized from formal transitional justice and peace-building processes. It also honors and acknowledges the work and resilience of those on the ground to move forward after destructive violence.


Image: Pilgrims participating in an Aadi Amavasai ceremony in Northern Sri Lanka. Photo taken by author.
Image (top): La Alta Montaña, El Carmen de Bolívar. Photo taken by author.