Prima Facie: Comfort Women, Defectors, and Testimony as Evidence


Past Event

Prima Facie: Comfort Women, Defectors, and Testimony as Evidence

March 29, 2021
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Eyewitness testimony has long been regarded as powerful evidence, particularly in the legal context but also in other disciplines. Oral accounts of victims and witnesses provide potent and vivid pictures of events and circumstances that we otherwise might have little knowledge of. Yet since the 1960s social scientists have expressed serious concerns about the reliability of testimony. Multiple studies have shown that biases, unconscious memory distortions and time affect accurate recall. But what do we do when testimony makes up the majority of the evidence we have? How do experts in disciplines as diverse as the law, history and anthropology control for the problems associated with testimonial evidence to arrive at accurate, truthful accounts upon which we can rely? How do we counter the use and abuse of testimony by states who use it to create their own narratives?

The Center for Korean Legal Studies at Columbia Law School welcomes Alexis Dudden (University of Connecticut) and Sandra Fahy (Sophia University) in conversation with Center Director Jeong-Ho Roh on the strengths and weaknesses of testimonial evidence in the context of the “comfort women” and North Korean defectors. 

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Contact Information

Joan Wargo