Perspectives from the Ground

Colonial Bureaucratic Violence, Identity, and Transitional Justice in Canada

in Conflict and Society

While traditionally underrepresented in transitional justice studies, anthropological study of culture, ethnography, and processes can contribute valuable insight into colonial bureaucracies and dynamics of power. This article uses an ethnographic approach and a colonial bureaucratic violence theoretical foundation to analyze negative perceptions of transitional justice at the ground level. Participants included facilitators, government officials, nonprofit organizations, and Indigenous community members; research occurred during implementation of transitional justice (2011–2014) for a period of 12 months. Specifically, I argue that the relationship between transitional justice and colonial bureaucratic violence encourages negative views of transitional justice. Instead, ethnographic data first reveals that bureaucratic processes within transitional justice challenge Indigenous identities. Second, Indigenous survivors in British Columbia, Canada, largely view transitional justice on a continuum of colonial bureaucratic violence. Using a colonial bureaucratic violence framework, this article provides insight and nuance into perceptions of transitional justice at the local level.