Archive: January, 2013

New Opinion Piece: “Lessons for Uganda from Post-Genocide Rwanda”

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

The Uganda-based Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP) has recently launched its third issue of Voices Magazine to promote local perspectives on “the Right to Know” – its recent campaign to “draw attention to the significance of truth-seeking and missing persons in the transitional justice discourse in Uganda” (Ojok, 4). Throughout the volume, truth-telling is highlighted as a key means of promoting social reconstruction in the region. However, what form or forms should this truth-telling process take?

As a partial response to this question, I was asked by JRP to contribute a brief opinion piece on the various lessons that can be gleaned from international and domestic efforts to locate and commemorate the missing victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and related mass atrocities. I argue that for many survivors, some form of identification will be necessary in order to allow them to accept the deaths of their missing loved ones. Forensic investigations may be a suitable possibility, but caution is necessary. Collaboration with survivor communities should be encouraged in order to ensure that theĀ  investigations are culturally and politically appropriate and do not inadvertently contribute to the deepening of divisions among Ugandans. And in choosing appropriate vehicles for commemoration, a similar strategy should be employed. While nationalized commemoration is often perceived to be an essential and beneficial part of the transitional justice toolkit, its positive potential can only be realized if the surrounding communities support the form and function of the resulting commemorative sites and events. And of greatest importance, such initiatives will undoubtedly require genuine political support at theĀ  international and domestic levels.

New Contribution: “Forensic Investigations” in The Encyclopedia of Transitional Justice

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Lavinia Stan and Nadya Nedelsky’s Encyclopedia of Transitional Justice has just been published through Cambridge University Press. It is a three volume reference collection that provides overviews of transitional justice terminology, methods and practices, and theoretical debates and key questions, as well as brief summaries of how transitional justice theories and methods have been applied in particular conflict settings, from Rwanda to Bosnia-Hercegovina.

It also includes a brief piece on Forensic Investigations – my first real attempt at bringing international and domestic forensic investigations that are applied in the aftermath of mass human rights violations into conversation with transitional justice discourses. For those of you who are interested in it, but who can’t afford the cost of the three volume set, feel free to contact me and I’ll pass along the final pdf version.

New Course Website: The Ethnography of Political Violence

Friday, January 4th, 2013

So I’m trying something new this semester. Rather than working through UBC’s e-learning system, I’ve decided to create my own course website and to encourage students to interact with the required readings via a blog in order to earn their “participation mark”. The resulting website is: The Ethnography of Political Violence. I will be uploading brief introductory blogs twice a week – in time for our classes on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons – and then asking students to add their reading reflections as comments. This online dialogue will then form the foundation for our in-class discussions. Feel free to follow along!


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