Edited by Cheryl Lawther, Luke Moffett and Dov Jacobs
Chapter 12: Transitional justice and the 'plight' of victimhood
As transitional justice has evolved over the last two decades, the field has coalesced around the goals of truth, justice and reconciliation, with victims at its center. Even as a sense of a moral – and increasingly – a legal obligation to victims has driven the international transitional justice agenda, scholars have questioned the assumptions about victims that drive policy and practice, thereby opening up new areas of inquiry. A burgeoning transitional justice literature has raised questions of national and international responsibility to victims, the role of cultures in processes of social reconstruction, the value of transitional justice to victim empowerment, the social construction of victim identity and the differential contribution of retributive and distributive justice to victims and societal change. This chapter examines these assumptions, from where they arose, and how they have been expressed in discourse and praxis. It also takes into account the work of academics as well as the contributions of victims and their advocates to examine the evolution of the field. By identifying some of the tensions generated by the diverse goals and understandings of victimhood, this chapter sheds new light on the challenges to and concerns raised by a victim-centered transitional justice. Victimhood; identity; reimagining
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