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The political geographies of transitional justice

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Abstract:

This paper examines how geographers can contribute to debates concerning transitional justice. Recent scholarship in criminology has identified a residual ‘legalism’ in the enactment and study of transitional justice: trial processes and the perspectives of jurists have been prioritised over wider processes of social healing and the perceptions of non-legal actors. This paper explores how geographers can contribute to challenging this prioritisation of legal processes within the study and practice of transitional justice. This is achieved through an examination of attempts to establish forms of transitional justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the end of the war in 1995. Specifically, the paper explores the establishment in 2005 of the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the civil society-based strategies it has employed to reach out to witnesses and victim populations. The paper makes two interlinked arguments. First, it examines how the international response to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina placed justice at a distance from victim communities. Second, the paper argues that civil society activities undertaken to widen access to justice have opened up new spaces of deliberation and critique. It is argued that these spatialities point to possibilities of deliberative conceptions of justice fostered beyond legal institutions and processes.

Keywords: Bosnia and Herzegovina transitional justice political geography law civil society

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-5661.2011.00429.x

Publication date: July 1, 2011

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