Judging State-Sponsored Violence, Imagining Political Change

Judging State-Sponsored Violence, Imagining Political Change

By: Bronwyn Leebaw (author)Hardback

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How should state-sponsored atrocities be judged and remembered? This controversial question animates contemporary debates on transitional justice and reconciliation. This book reconsiders the legacies of two institutions that transformed the theory and practice of transitional justice. Whereas the Nuremberg Trials exemplified the promise of legalism and international criminal justice, South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission promoted restorative justice and truth commissions. Leebaw argues that the two frameworks share a common problem: both rely on criminal justice strategies to investigate experiences of individual victims and perpetrators, which undermines their critical role as responses to systematic atrocities. Drawing on the work of influential transitional justice institutions and thinkers such as Judith Shklar, Hannah Arendt, Jose Zalaquett and Desmond Tutu, Leebaw offers a new approach to thinking about the critical role of transitional justice - one that emphasizes the importance of political judgment and investigations that examine complicity in, and resistance to, systematic atrocities.

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About Author

Dr Bronwyn Leebaw is currently an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department at the University of California, Riverside. She has received funding from institutions such as the Hewlett Foundation, the Institute for the Study of World Politics and the Mellon Foundation. Her interest in transitional justice, restorative justice and human rights has led her to South Africa, Bosnia-Herzegovina and The Hague, Netherlands. Leebaw has published several articles on these topics in journals such as Perspectives on Politics, Human Rights Quarterly and Polity.


1. Introduction: transitional justice and the 'gray zone'; 2. Human rights legalism and the legacy of Nuremberg; 3. A different kind of justice: South Africa's alternative to legalism; 4. Political judgment and transitional justice: actors and spectators; 5. Rethinking restorative justice; 6. Remembering resistance; 7. Conclusion: the shadows of the past.

Product Details

  • publication date: 18/04/2011
  • ISBN13: 9781107000582
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 224
  • ID: 9781107000582
  • weight: 480
  • ISBN10: 1107000580

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