maddison and shepherd on transitional justice

05Apr14

Sarah Maddison & Laura J. Shepherd, ‘Peacebuilding and the postcolonial politics of transitional justice’, Peacebuilding (2014 iFirst).

The literature on transitional justice tends to conceive of transition as a bounded process that takes place immediately following a conflict, rather than envision the process as part of building peace. Significantly, this literature tends to separate historical conflict and contemporary transition. While the similarities between historical and recent conflict are often acknowledged, the remedies available under the transitional justice framework are rarely applied to the violence and historical injustice that are inherent to settler colonialism. This omission creates some troubling silences in the transitional justice literature, which this article seeks to address through drawing on critical peacebuilding scholarship. This article considers what might be learned about the processes and challenges of transition by expanding the temporal frame in which transitional justice is placed. The article suggests that transition may in fact be a far lengthier, more complex, and more challenging process than the literature generally concedes. More significantly, by focusing on colonial violence, the conventional conceptualisations of both ‘transition’ and ‘justice’ can be challenged.



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