CFP: ECPR General Conference – TJ Section: “Speaking Silence: Ruptures in the Representation of the Past in Formalised Transitional Justice Mechanisms”
Deadline: February 10, 2017
ECPR Panel Abstract:
Speaking Silence: Ruptures in the Representation of the Past in Formalised Transitional Justice Mechanisms
Restorative and retributive justice mechanisms such as truth commissions and (inter-)national trials creates a ‘historical record’ of the crimes committed. Yet, trials follow a rigid legalistic framework in order to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ what happened at a certain place and time and who was involved. In a similar vain, truth and reconciliation commissions are bound to their organisational framework and also need to establish the ‘truth’ of what happened in the past, although in a more narrative form than that of trials.
This panel asks in what ways the past is represented in formalised transitional justice mechanisms, and, importantly, what is silenced or forgotten in the ‘historical record’ they produce. The panel applies a narrative approach that specifies the unfolding of histories along temporal lines. Even more so, narrative analyses provide an explanatory and evaluative framework for understanding how and why events unfold as they do. Narratives provide representations of what happened that can be dense with interpersonal meaning, experience and evaluation. But narratives emerging in and through formalised settings of transitional justice mechanisms are constrained, directed and evaluated according to the demands of the institutional framework, adapted, retold and reproduced in transitional justice ‘truths’ of events in the past. The papers in this panel will address the restraining narrative processes of courts and truth commissions, and highlight in particular the importance of what is silenced in the official, validated ‘truths’ these mechanisms produce. Using narrative studies as analytical framework this panel will investigate the gaps and silences that cut through witness testimonies in formalised transitional justice settings.