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Transitional Justice

Transitional Justice: Global Mechanisms and Local Realities after Genocide and Mass Violence

Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Transitional Justice
    Book Description:

    How do societies come to terms with the aftermath of genocide and mass violence, and how might the international community contribute to this process? Recently, transitional justice mechanisms such as tribunals and truth commissions have emerged as a favored means of redress. Transitional Justice, the first edited collection in anthropology focused directly on this issue, argues that, however well-intentioned, transitional justice needs to more deeply grapple with the complexities of global and transnational involvements and the local on-the-ground realities with which they intersect.Contributors consider what justice means and how it is negotiated in different localities where transitional justice efforts are underway after genocide and mass atrocity. They address a variety of mechanisms, among them, a memorial site in Bali, truth commissions in Argentina and Chile, First Nations treaty negotiations in Canada, violent youth groups in northern Nigeria, the murder of young women in post-conflict Guatemala, and the gacaca courts in Rwanda.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5069-5
    Subjects: Law, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Mô Bleeker

    This book has an ambitious goal: to design outlines of the anthropology of transitional justice. Reading it brings insight into the complexities and complications that emerge when postconflict societies seek a path forward after mass violence.

    As Alex Hinton points out, even if the area of transitional justice is still emerging, actors in this field have produced a broad range of reflections, tools, reviews, tentative theoretical approaches, and have used a combination of different disciplines, including history, law, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and religious studies. Moreover, institutions are being created and staffed by so-called transitional justice professionals, where courses are being...

    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction: Toward an Anthropology of Transitional Justice
    (pp. 1-22)

    How do societies come to terms with the aftermath of genocide and mass violence? And how might the international community contribute to this process? In recent years, transitional justice mechanisms such as tribunals and truth commissions have emerged as a favored means of redress, one that is now the focus of international workshops, academic conferences, UN reports, foreign relations and diplomacy, nongovernmental organizations, and scholarly research.

    This volume argues that, however well-intentioned, transitional justice needs to more deeply grapple with the messiness of global and transnational involvements and the local, on-the-ground realities with which they intersect, complexities that are too...

  6. PART ONE Transitional Frictions

    • 1 Identifying Srebrenica’s Missing: The “Shaky Balance” of Universalism and Particularism
      (pp. 25-48)

      Return, reconstruction, recognition, reparation. The language of postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina is saturated with a sense of what once was—or what was imagined to be—and the need to bring it back into existence. In these words, Bosnia’s recent past serves as the referent for verbs of restoration and rehabilitation as those who employ them attempt to bridge the gap between a pre-genocide, pre-rape, and pre-flight place and an envisioned harmoniously multiethnic and functional society. Such a time-compressing impulse to render order and re-right wrongs is not unique to Bosnia. Rather, as the essays in this volume demonstrate, attempts...

    • 2 The Failure of International Justice in East Timor and Indonesia
      (pp. 49-66)

      The global rise in violence over the past two decades has been accompanied by a proliferation of transnational, postconflict, justice, and reconciliation institutions. Justice has become a very powerful normative discourse authorizing interventions, reconfiguring legal subjectivities within and between sovereignties. Institutions of transitional justice, trials and tribunals, no less than truth commissions attempt to develop narratives about past violence intended to settle accounts or fill in missing pieces. It is often assumed that these narratives, and their ability to demonstrate the truth, play a powerful role in legitimating future institutions and mending the social (du Toit 2000; Kritz 1995; Popkin...

    • 3 Body of Evidence: Feminicide, Local Justice, and Rule of Law in “Peacetime” Guatemala
      (pp. 67-92)

      The last time Claudina Isabel communicated with her parents was around 11:45 p.m. on August 12, 2005. Around two in the morning on August 13, her parents were awoken by Zully Moreno, the mother of Claudina Isabel’s boyfriend, Pedro Samayoa Moreno, who went to their home to inform them that Claudina Isabel was in grave danger. Señora Moreno claimed that Claudina Isabel called her to tell her she was walking home and that this call was cut short by Claudina Isabel’s screams for help. Claudina Isabel’s parents immediately went out to search for their daughter first at the house where...

  7. PART TWO Justice in the Vernacular

    • 4 (In)Justice: Truth, Reconciliation, and Revenge in Rwanda’s Gacaca
      (pp. 95-118)

      Fifteen years after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, many genocide survivors and victims are still awaiting justice, although it has been sought through a plurality of mechanisms: an ad hoc international tribunal, foreign courts, Rwandan justice system, and a local justice mechanism known asGacaca(pronounced ga-cha-cha). In a radical departure from precedents in other postconflict countries, where amnesties, truth commissions, selective prosecutions, or some combination thereof, have been used to bring closure to conflict, Rwanda decided to put “most of the nation on trial” (Waldorf 2006, 3). To accomplish this task, the government reinvented a “traditional” conflict resolution mechanism...

    • 5 Remembering Genocide: Hypocrisy and the Violence of Local/Global “Justice” in Northern Nigeria
      (pp. 119-136)

      In 1999 and 2000, the transition from Nigerian military to democratic rule, and the implementation of Sharia criminal law in twelve states of northern Nigeria, brought violent conflicts over the legal bounds of identity and citizenship, civility and criminality, with armed youths the new agents of policing. The changes involved the election of President Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military head of state, and the reimposition of Sharia criminal codes that had been in place during the colonial period but excised at independence (Kumo 1993, 7–8).¹ Beyond non-Muslim fears of the Islamization of Nigeria, widely reported in the media, the...

    • 6 Genocide, Affirmative Repair, and the British Columbia Treaty Process
      (pp. 137-156)

      This chapter examines the ways in which genocidal violence (understood here as physically, biologically, or culturally destructive violence targeted toward groups) is potentially transformed into symbolic violence through transitional justice processes. The British Columbia Treaty Process, which began in 1992 and has for the past seventeen years made a halting attempt to negotiate treaties between First Nations and the governments of British Columbia and Canada, is used as a case study to illustrate this argument.¹

      A key component of transitional symbolic violence is the failure or refusal to recognize the harms of the past. The British Columbia Treaty Process was...

    • 7 Local Justice and Legal Rights among the San and Bakgalagadi of the Central Kalahari, Botswana
      (pp. 157-176)

      The Republic of Botswana in southern Africa has long been regarded as an exceptional African nation-state. Not only has it been democratic for over forty years, with half a dozen open, corruption-free elections, but it has also maintained an active civil society, an independent press, political stability, economic growth, and, until recently, an excellent human rights record (Leith 2005). Unlike some of its neighbors, Botswana did not experience violence and conflict in the transformation from colonial to postcolonial status. While South Africa had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Zimbabwe had investigations of human rights abuses in the post-independence period,...

  8. PART THREE Voice, Truth, and Narrative

    • 8 Testimonies, Truths, and Transitions of Justice in Argentina and Chile
      (pp. 179-205)

      After General Reynaldo Bignone passed the sash and baton of authority to Raúl Alfonsín on December 10, 1983, and left the presidential palace at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires through the rear exit, he found himself face to face with Argentina’s most vexed question: “Cain, where is thy brother?” This chilling message was left on a scrap of paper stuck under the windshield wiper of the car that sped the ex-dictator away from the crowd celebrating the return to democracy after seven years of military rule (CISEA 1984, 534). The message referred of course to the 10,000–30,000...

    • 9 Judging the “Crime of Crimes”: Continuity and Improvisation at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
      (pp. 206-226)

      Courtroom III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Arusha, Tanzania, in 2006. A protected Rwandan prosecution witness is being cross-examined by an American defense lawyer.¹ The witness has been on the stand for eight days, the court sitting from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with two hours for lunch. It is now around 5:00 p.m. The defense counsel presses the witness on whether he made notes when he gave his statement and whether he has been consulting those notes in the evenings. The presiding judge asks the defense lawyer to explain the relevance of this line of questioning....

    • 10 Building a Monument: Intimate Politics of “Reconciliation” in Post-1965 Bali
      (pp. 227-248)

      What are the politics of speaking the violent past, of investing it with social form and force in the search for a different kind of future? How are ideas of justice evoked in motion, apprehended in their travels across national, cultural, gendered, and generational divisions, and made to speak to particular kinds of experience? And where might anthropology position itself in the contested aftermath of violent conflict, where weighty terms like “history,” “victimization,” and “reconciliation” occupy the horizons of political attention? In this essay, I draw upon long-term ethnographic fieldwork with survivors of the 1965–1966 state-sponsored anticommunist massacres in...

  9. Afterword: The Consequences of Transitional Justice in Particular Contexts
    (pp. 249-256)

    The field of transitional justice has developed over the past two decades as a particular approach to addressing the legacies of massive human rights abuses or atrocities (see Arthur 2009). The primary measures that make up what might be called the tool box of this approach are criminal prosecutions of perpetrators, truth-telling initiatives such as truth commissions, reparations for victims, certain institutional reforms such as vetting, and memorialization efforts. Transitional justice measures are generally applied in countries emerging out of armed conflict or authoritarian rule, and the goals that have been ascribed to them include making contributions to democratization, the...

    (pp. 257-260)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 261-271)