Sam Jackson, Áron Bakos, Birgitte Refslund Sørensen, and Matti Weisdorf
Corinna Mullin and Ian Patel
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.
Resistance to Transitional Justice in Bahrain
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.
The Politics/People Dichotomy in the Ethnography of Post-Yugoslav Nationalization
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.
Rethinking Resistance to Transitional Justice
Briony Jones and Thomas Brudholm
Post-Conflict Dynamics in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Identities, Nationalization, and Missing Bodies
The Dialectics of Displacement and Emplacement
Henrik Vigh and Jesper Bjarnesen
Encountering the Missing in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina
In many armed conflicts, forced disappearances and hiding the bodies of victims of mass atrocities are used strategically. This article argues that disappearances are powerful weapons, as their consequences reach from the most intimate relations to the formation of political communities. Consequently, political projects of forced disappearances leave difficult legacies for post-conflict reconciliation, and they give rise to a need to address individuals’ and families’ needs as well as relations between national and political groups implicated in the conflict. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this articles explores the question of missing persons in post-1992 Bosnia. The processes of identification and practices of remembering and commemorating the missing are analyzed through the concept of liminality. The article argues that the future-oriented temporality of liminality gives rise to numerous practices of encountering the enigma of the missing, while the political atmosphere of postwar Bosnia restricts possibilities of communitas-type relationality across ethnonational differences.
From “Predicaments of Mobility” to “Potentialities in Displacement”
Stephen C. Lubkemann
In this article I draw comparatively on ethnographic material from my work with war-affected populations from postcolonial Mozambique and diasporan Liberia to argue for a fundamental shift in the conceptualization and study of displacement. I argue first for a need to shift from an emphasis on physical mobility as the sine qua non of “displacement,” to an empirical investigation of the less-than-self-evident relationship between physical mobility and social mobility. I illustrate how the meanings and outcomes of physical mobility are far from given but must be treated as an empirical problem, in which the social opportunity structures that cultural agents ultimately navigate are reconfigured in complex, contradictory, and inadvertent ways that simultaneously generate new and socially differentiated challenges as well as opportunities.