Working Paper Series No. 4: “Opening Up or Closing the Historical Dialogue: The Role of Civil Society in Promoting a Debate About the Past”

The academic year has started and, once again, we are excited to kick off 2014-2015 series of unpublished papers on issues of historical dialogue, historical and transitional justice, and public and social memory. To start off the school year, we are happy to share Caterina Bonara’s paper, “Opening Up or Closing the Historical Dialogue: The Role of Civil Society in Promoting a Debate About the Past.”

As usual, we encourage you to peruse the paper and add your thoughts and observations–however informal and brief–to the comments of this post.

Next, the Historical Dialogues, Justice and Memory Network is considering new work to feature in the Working Paper (WP) Series for 2014-2015. We are looking for unpublished texts that emerging scholars, practitioners and others are willing to “workshop” within our intellectual community.

This is a unique format for online working papers, with opportunities for discussion and feedback. We will feature your WP on the Network website for a period of approximately two months, promoting the series on our bimonthly newsletter, blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages, encouraging members to read your paper and contribute to an online discussion.

For submissions, there are no restrictions on topic, length, or citation format, though we recommend fewer than 30 pages in length and we require the use of a consistent citation method with complete references. There are no restrictions on author affiliation, training, or experience, and your WP can be a policy memo, a practice-oriented program outline, or a scholarly contribution. Copyright will remain with the author, so that posting in the WP series will not prevent you from pursuing publication with the same paper at a later time. Your paper will be archived once a new WP is posted, or if you request its removal. The discussion around your paper will remain accessible.

The working paper series is an excellent opportunity to receive interdisciplinary feedback on your ideas and writing. We encourage you to send questions and Working Paper submissions to co-editors Michelle Bellino and Cathlin Goulding at Looking forward to your submissions and thoughts!

Paper Abstract

Both scholars and practitioners of transitional justice have recently emphasized the importance of local civil societies in the processes of dealing with a society’s violent past. Via the inclusion of local actors, the processes of transitional justice are believed to become more resonant with local justice needs and therefore able to promote a more significant debate about the past. This paper will critically examine this assumption, by exploring the role of an ongoing bottom-up initiative of truth seeking (REKOM) in the process of dealing with the past in post-war Bosnia Herzegovina. While the initiative attracted considerable attention and funds at the international level, it was also criticized for not properly taking into account the needs of the victims and the local communities. By relying on the preliminary analysis of around 30 expert interviews carried out with local civil society actors, the paper will consider in particular two questions: whether REKOM was so far able to reflect and include the local justice needs; and to promote significant changes in the debate about the wartime past in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Author Bio

3108-16A_0502Caterina Bonora is a third-year Ph.D. candidate at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences, in Germany and is currently a visiting scholar at the New School in New York City. Her research is about the role of bottom-up initiatives of transitional justice in the former Yugoslavia, with a particular focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before joining the Graduate School in Bremen, she worked for several international and non-governmental organizations in Bosnia Herzegovina and in Serbia. As a Ph.D. fellow, she has taught an undergraduate seminar on transitional justice and presented at various conferences. She holds an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Florence, Italy and a B.A. from the University of Trieste, Italy.

Working Paper 

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