CFP (Edited volume): “Transitional Justice” and Legacies of State violence in Latin America

Call for papers, Edited Volume:
“Transitional Justice” and Legacies of State violence in Latin America
Marcia Esparza & Nina Schneider

This interdisciplinary call for papers invites scholars, practitioners and human rights activists to submit essays focusing on the reception and use of the paradigm of “transitional justice” in various Latin American countries, ranging from fervent support to outright repudiation. The field of “transitional justice” – whether as an academic sub-discipline, a practice, or an industry – has grown rapidly since the 1990s resulting in the advancement of numerous mechanisms including criminal trials, reparations and truth-seeking initiatives. A large body of academic and non-scholarly literature praises the paradigm, hails its achievements and calls for further transitional justice initiatives.
This book seeks to deconstruct the “myth” that has grown up around the seemingly unanimous support for the field of transitional justice in Latin America. By interrogating its acceptance on the basis of empirical evidence and including the voices of people from the South, we hope to outline the spectrum of responses ranging from wholehearted support for this framework to complete rejection of it, and to shed light on the reasons for this variation. We argue that the paradigm (as an academic field, a practice, and an industry) is a double-edged sword that can either advance or hinder attempts to preserve memory, and pursue truth and justice in post-authoritarian societies.
Drawing on examples from Latin America we seek to reflect on the meaning of the paradigm’s reception: What does support for, or rejection of it, respectively, tell us about current social and political struggles over a violent past? What does it tell us about the interplay between global and local human rights protagonists? And what are the political and social consequences of supporting, appropriating and rejecting the paradigm? While numerous human rights activists, lawyers and researchers in Argentina and Chile, for example, appear to reject “transitional justice”, the paradigm has been embraced by various actors in Colombia or Brazil when demanding state accountability for past crimes. Studies have shown that “transitional justice” research and practice was pioneered in Latin America, both in qualitative and quantitative terms, and therefore it provides the ideal case study. Latin America held the largest number of human rights trials in the world and appointed the most truth commissions. Argentina’s Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas (CONADEP) of 1983 is considered the first proper truth commission to include a final report. By bringing together authors from a variety of professional and social backgrounds – ranging from human rights activists and practitioners to academic researchers – and from numerous different regions, we aim to stimulate a more nuanced and evidence-based discussion of both the acceptance of the transitional justice framework and its potential uses and dangers in the context of Latin America’s struggle for memory, truth, and justice (and beyond).
We seek interdisciplinary contributions from authors of various social, political, and regional backgrounds that critically explore whether, how and why the “transitional justice” paradigm has been accepted, appropriated or rejected within specific historical-political contexts.

Questions may include:

•How was “transitional justice” received in a specific Latin American region? By whom? In what historical-political context?

•Who/which institutions introduced the paradigm and by whom was it taken up? Did it enter mainstream discourse/practice? If so, how and by whom was it appropriated?

•Which groups/institutions supported, appropriated or rejected the paradigm of “transitional justice”? How and why did they do so?

•Precisely what is being criticised: the concept; the practice; or the institutions involved?

•Is the use of the paradigm contested, and if so, by whom, how and why? What alternative terms, practices and institutional forms are used instead? Is the term “post-transitional justice” (Collins) a viable alternative?

•Has the concept been criticised within the regional academic sphere (and among practitioners)? If so, where and how (at meetings and conferences, in publications or manifestos)? How has this literature been received by the international research/practitioner community?

•What are the lessons to be learned from Latin America for the acceptance of the paradigm in general?

Contributors are invited to submit a 500-word abstract by 1 October 2013 to, along with a brief biography of no more than 300 words. We will accept contributions in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Notification of acceptance will be sent by 15 December 2013. We are planning to hold an on-site/Skype symposium (with translators, if needed) to discuss the articles in mid/late December or early January. Completed articles will be due by 1 April 2014 and should be between 7,000 and 7,500 words in length.

Dr. Nina Schneider
University of Konstanz
Fach 216
Office Y 324
78457 Konstanz, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)7531 / 88 – 5671
Fax: +49 (0)7531 / 88 – 4829

Visit the website at

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