Ambiguous loss and incomplete abduction narratives in Kosovo

Kajtazi-Testa, Laura and Hewer, Christopher J (2018) Ambiguous loss and incomplete abduction narratives in Kosovo. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 23(2), pp. 333-345. ISSN (print) 1359-1045


Ten mothers of men and boys who were abducted and listed as missing during the war in Kosovo in 1998/1999 were interviewed in Kosovo in the spring of 2012. Although the missing are presumed dead by the authorities, the mothers continue to live in a state of emotional ambiguity where a presumption of death is balanced with the hope of being reunited. In the absence of absolute proof, finding the remains of their loved ones becomes a major preoccupation. Using a social phenomenological approach, this study explored the social and political complexities existing within the life-world of these women. The findings suggest that they live in a continual state of psychological distress, and even when remains are returned, the unknown elements of the narrative of their abduction and murder only add to their distress and force many into self-imposed emotional exile away from community and close family.

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