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Transitional Justice

Global Mechanisms and Local Realities after Genocide and Mass Violence

Edited and with an introduction by Alexander Laban Hinton

Publication Year: 2010

How do societies come to terms with the aftermath of genocide and mass violence, and how might the international community contribute to this process? Transitional Justice, the first edited collection in anthropology focused directly on this issue, argues that, however well-intentioned, transitional justice needs to grapple more deeply 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 and address a variety of mechanisms.

Published by: Rutgers University Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

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. ...

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pp. ix

The origins of this project date back to a 2007 symposium, “Local Justice: Global Mechanisms and Local Meanings in the Aftermath of Mass Atrocity,” held at Rutgers University–Newark. I would like to thank the Office of the Chancellor at Rutgers–Newark for supporting this event. Several participants later presented papers in a session at the July 2007 meeting of the ...

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Introduction: Toward an Anthropology of Transitional Justice

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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 ...

Part One: Transitional Frictions

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1. Identifying Srebrenica’s Missing: The "Shaky Balance" of Universalism and Particularism

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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 ...

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2. The Failure of International Justice in East Timor and Indonesia

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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 ...

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3. Body of Evidence: Feminicide, Local Justice, and Rule of Law in "Peacetime" Guatemala

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pp. 67-91

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 ...

Part Two: Justice in the Vernacular

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4. (In)Justice: Truth, Reconciliation, and Revenge in Rwanda's Gacaca

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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 as Gacaca (pronounced ga-cha-cha). In a radical departure from precedents in other ...

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5. Remembering Genocide: Hypocrisy and the Violence of Local/Global "Justice" in Northern Nigeria

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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, ...

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6. Genocide, Affirmative Repair, and the British Columbia Treaty Process

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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 ...

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7. Local Justice and Legal Rights among the San and Bakgalagadi of the Central Kalahari, Botswana

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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 ...

Part Three: Voice, Truth, and Narrative

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8. Testimonies, Truths, and Transitions of Justice in Argentina and Chile

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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 ...

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9. Judging the “Crime of Crimes”: Continuity and Improvisation at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

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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 ...

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10. Building a Monument: Intimate Politics of "Reconciliation" in Post-1965 Bali

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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 ...

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Afterword: The Consequences of Transitional Justice in Particular Contexts

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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, ...


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pp. 257-259


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pp. 261-271

E-ISBN-13: 9780813550695
E-ISBN-10: 0813550696
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813547619
Print-ISBN-10: 081354761X

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 1 photograph, 5 graphs
Publication Year: 2010