Research Handbook on Transitional Justice
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Research Handbook on Transitional Justice

Edited by Cheryl Lawther, Luke Moffett and Dov Jacobs

Providing detailed and comprehensive coverage of the transitional justice field, this Research Handbook brings together leading scholars and practitioners to explore how societies deal with mass atrocities after periods of dictatorship or conflict. Situating the development of transitional justice in its historical context, social and political context, it analyses the legal instruments that have emerged.
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Chapter 13: Art and transitional justice: The 'infinite incompleteness' of transition

Andrea Breslin

Abstract

This chapter explores the dynamic relationship between the practice of art and the aims of transitional justice. Different art forms, performance in particular, often play a role in formal transitional justice mechanisms, but what about art itself fulfilling some of the relevant functions, such as truth-seeking, memorialization, and reconciliation? As to the question of why art would be required outside of the formal processes, there are a number of situations in which art can play a role. In some cases art can fill a vacuum, in other situations it can complement existing mechanisms and sometimes art can open the space for official initiatives by beginning the difficult discussions and creating the demand for formalised justice. The different situations are illustrated in this chapter, followed by a thematic exploration of the value that different art practices can contribute to the aims of transitional justice, through truth-seeking, opening a space for marginalized voices, addressing social challenges and reasserting the rights that are routinely repressed prior to the period of transition. Ownership and consumption of the art is also addressed, along with some of the risks inherent in opening up these contentious spaces during times of transition. Art; truth-seeking; marginalized voices; social challenges; rights

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