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Adopting a Resistance Lens

An Exploration of Power and Legitimacy in Transitional Justice

Julie Bernath and Sandra Rubli

ABSTRACT

Drawing from the critical scholarship on transitional justice and from studies of resistance, this article brings together different observations of resistance, including different sets of actors, forms and motives of resistance, and analyzes their implications for power and legitimacy in contexts of transition. The article argues that the analytical value of resistance lies in the original vantage point it provides for an engagement with questions of power and legitimacy that inform transitional justice processes, but that are often difficult to identify on an empirical level. In doing so, it proposes a “resistance lens,” that is, an explicit focus on resistance that is based on a relational understanding to resistance, in order to move beyond simplistic conceptions of resistance in transitional justice scholarship that mainly approach resistance as resulting from a lack of political will of the powerful elite to implement supposedly universal transitional justice models.

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Michael D. Jackson

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Analyzing Resistance to Transitional Justice

What Can We Learn from Hybridity?

Briony Jones

ABSTRACT

A focus on understanding and managing the reactions of affected populations has led to hybridity’s being an important part of the discussions about, and applications of, transitional justice. However, despite the presence of “resistance” as a component in theories of hybrid peace, there is limited in-depth theoretical or empirical work on resistance to transitional justice. The content of this article addresses this gap in two main ways. First, it asks what we can learn from theories of hybrid peace about resistance to transitional justice. Second, it proposes a particular approach to resistance that would allow for a more dynamic and ultimately more useful understanding of resistance to transitional justice. The argument presented here states not only that we must seek to understand the nature of resistance as a part of hybridity, but we must do so by analyzing the relational process through which acts come to be defined as resistance.

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Between Labor Migration and Forced Displacement

Wartime Mobilities in the Burkina Faso–Côte d’Ivoire Transnational Space

Jesper Bjarnesen

ABSTRACT

The significant number of involuntary returns of labor migrants to Burkina Faso is a relatively neglected aspect of the armed conflict in Côte d’Ivoire. Between 500,000 and 1 million Burkinabe migrants were forced to leave Côte d’Ivoire between 2000 and 2007, placing tremendous pressure on local communities in Burkina Faso to receive and integrate these mass arrivals, and causing those returning labor migrants an acute sense of displacement. This article analyzes the experiences of displacement and resettlement in the context of the Ivorian crisis and explores the dialectics of displacement and emplacement in the lives of involuntary labor migrant returnees; their young adult children; and Burkinabe recruits returning after their service in the Forces Nouvelles rebel forces in Côte d’Ivoire.

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Sam Jackson, Áron Bakos, Birgitte Refslund Sørensen, and Matti Weisdorf

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Corinna Mullin and Ian Patel

ABSTRACT

This article discusses the politics of “transition” in Tunisia and locates Tunisia’s post-uprising justice initiatives within existing critical literature on global liberal governance and transitional justice. Methodologically, it treats transitional justice as a site of contestation, involving the exercise of domestic and transnational strategies of power as well as the often subversive agency of former and ongoing victims of state crime. By examining noninstitutionalized forms of contestation, this article seeks to understand and contextualize the fears expressed by some victims that the formal transitional justice process may be a diversion from, rather than bridge to, revolutionary aims.

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Ronald Stade

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Fighting Fire with Fire

Resistance to Transitional Justice in Bahrain

Ciara O’Loughlin

ABSTRACT

Recent decades have seen an explosion of interest in transitional justice. Although much attention has been directed toward measuring the effects of transitional justice mechanisms, discussion of the motivations for and manifestations of resistance to transitional justice processes has been limited. This article contributes to this underexamined area through an analysis of the nature of resistance to transitional justice in Bahrain following the February 2011 uprisings. It identifies existing explanations for resistance to and engagement with transitional justice before considering whether Mitchell Dean’s analytics of government approach—with its emphasis on identifying discrepancies between actors’ declared and actual intentions—assists in revealing less obvious manifestations of resistance, such as those seen in Bahrain. It is suggested that adopting the institutional manifestations of transitional justice may, paradoxically, be understood as a strategy for resisting popular demands for accountability and political transformation—the very notions at the core of any transition.

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First as Tragedy, Then as Teleology

The Politics/People Dichotomy in the Ethnography of Post-Yugoslav Nationalization

Stef Jansen

ABSTRACT

Ethnographers working in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been at the forefront of the struggle against the identitarianism that dominates scholarship and policymaking regarding the country. Tirelessly foregrounding patterns of life that exceed, contradict, complicate or are oblivious to questions thus framed, we have—unsurprisingly—paid a price for this contribution: explorations of the appeal of nationalism are left mostly to others. This article identifies an emic and etic politics/people paradigm that facilitates our timidity to register the ways in which “ordinary people” may enact nationalist subjectivity. Seeking to retain the paradigm’s strengths, I call for a recalibration of how we understand it to function and explore conceptual tools to make this work. Starting from two cases of “foot soldier narratives,” I suggest that hegemony theory can help us trace not only how people are subjected to nationalization but also how they may seek subjectification through it.

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Introduction

The Dialectics of Displacement and Emplacement

Henrik Vigh and Jesper Bjarnesen