The “Transitional Citizen”: Civil Society, Political Agency and Hopes for Transitional Justice in Bosnia–Herzegovina
Over the past 5 years there has been a concerted effort by the newly-established Court of Bosnia–Herzegovina to build its legitimacy within local communities through processes of public outreach and civil society capacity building. Although particular understandings of the “transitional citizen” are implied within such activities they have, to date, been left under explored in the literature on transitional justice and Bosnia–Herzegovina. However, the way in which political subjectivity is understood and is shaped at times of transition is fundamentally important for understanding how transitional justice is practiced. Thus this chapter will address a significant yet underexplored aspect of transitional justice: that of its citizen. We know from transitional justice scholars amongst others that the fostering of civic virtues, trust and behaviours are seen as vital for supporting transition towards democracy in post-war societies (de Greiff, 2008). This is the anticipated political community in reference to which reconciliation is enacted and over which it is assumed a consensus can and will develop. We suggest that there is a need to examine in detail this dynamic, both theoretically and empirically. This chapter draws on qualitative fieldwork undertaken by the three authors in both independent and collaborative projects between 2009 and 2011 in BiH to examine the type/s of citizen and political subjectivity that have emerged through processes of public outreach and civil society capacity building. This argument challenges a vision of the transitional citizen as a passive recipient of new legal or political programmes and illustrates the emergence of alternative understandings of justice and democracy through public outreach programmes.
KeywordsCivil Society Social Assistance Civil Society Organisation Transitional Justice Civic Virtue
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