Through the Looking Glass: Transitional Justice Futures through the Lens of Nationalism,...

Authors: Kris Brown and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin

In reflecting on the contemporary challenges and future directions of transitional justice theory and practice, this article addresses causality, accountability and political form in a triangulated assessment of nationalism’s power and ‘stickiness’ in the present formulations of transitional solutions. Addressing the identity politics of transitional justice brings us to assess the political forms that enable, define and consume transition with a particular hew to power-sharing and consociationalism-type arrangements in the aftermath of systematic atrocity. The authors provide a pragmatic, perhaps cynical account of the triumph of consociationalism as the preferred transitional accommodation, and point to the ‘dark side’ of governance arrangements in postconflict settings with implications for understanding cycles of violence and repeat conflict patterns. In both contexts, we deploy a feminist lens to understand the implications for women and gender transformation emerging from our framing of the politics of transitional justice in the contemporary moment.

Policy points:
• There is a tendency in political forms that follow from transitional justice processes to focus and reinforce identity politics.
• While power-sharing and consociationalism-type arrangements provide stability in transition from violence, they can constrain meaningful deeper political transformation.