Deconstructing Transitional Justice

Abstract

Transitional justice as a field of inquiry is a relatively new one. Referring to the range of mechanisms used to assist the transition of a state or society from one form of (usually repressive) rule to a more democratic order, transitional justice has become the dominant language in which the move from war to peace is discussed in the early twenty-first century. Applying a deconstructive analysis to the question of transitional justice, the paper seeks to interrogate the core assumptions that underlie transitional justice literature in relation to the relationship between law, politics and justice. As a discourse, transitional justice is replete with antinomies or binary oppositions, that of war and peace being the most obvious. Therefore the essentially deconstructible structure of differánce already exists within the concept. By examining the ways in which legal and political narratives are framed and reproduced, the paper seeks to deconstruct the opposition between law and politics on which much of the transitional justice literature rests. The article does not purport to provide a definitive critical analysis of transitional justice but aims to provoke debate and to prompt critical scholars to engage with the themes raised by providing an introductory analysis of some of the core features of a field of inquiry which seems ripe for deconstruction.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Sara Ramshaw, Louise Mallinder and Ilan Rua Wall for comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

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Correspondence to Catherine Turner.

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Turner, C. Deconstructing Transitional Justice. Law Critique 24, 193–209 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10978-013-9119-z

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Keywords

  • Deconstruction
  • Justice
  • Law
  • Politics
  • Transitional justice
  • Violence