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Transitional Justice and Collective Memory, 2008-2009

This research collaborative brings together faculty and graduate students to explore at the University of Minnesota to extend our mutual research interests in the area of transitional justice and collective memory. Since the 1980s, states and non-state actors are increasingly addressing past human rights violations using multiple mechanisms including domestic and international human rights trials, truth commissions, reparations, vetting, museums and other memory sites, archives, and oral history projects, as well as many forms of artistic production, including testimonial literature, photography, and film. All these processes aim to shape collective memory: knowledge about that past that is shared and mutually reinforced by a collectivity. We propose three major types of events: 1) regular seminars in which collaborative members present their current research in progress; 2) individual visits by a small number of scholars and practitioners working in the area of transitional justice and collective memory, including a formal public presentation and informal meetings and discussions with collaborative members and community groups; and 3) a symposium on human rights trials, in conjunction with three book projects currently in progress by collaborative members.

Do transitional justice practices—e.g. human rights trials, truth commissions, reparations, vetting, museums and other memory sites, archives, oral history projects, photography and film projects—help to prevent or deter future repressive episodes or human rights violations?  Can better understanding of how these practices construct collective cultural memory shed light on their ability to prevent or deter repression?

Convener: Kathryn Sikkink (Political Science, CLA).

Collaborative Participants: Barbara Frey (Global Studies, CLA), Raul Marrero-Fente (Spanish and Portuguese, CLA), Fionnuala Ni Aolain (Law School), Leigh Payne (Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison), and Joachim Savelsberg (Sociology, CLA).

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