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Transition and Justice: Negotiating the Terms of New Beginnings in Africa

ISBN: 978-1-118-94475-2
256 pages
December 2014, Wiley-Blackwell
Transition and Justice: Negotiating the Terms of New Beginnings in Africa (1118944755) cover image


Transition and Justice examines a series of cases from across the African continent where peaceful ‘new beginnings’ were declared after periods of violence and where transitional justice institutions helped define justice and the new socio-political order.
  • Offers a new perspective on transition and justice in Africa transcending the institutional limits of transitional justice
  • Covers a wide range of situations, and presents a broad range of sites where past injustices are addressed 
  • Examines cases where peaceful ‘new beginnings’ have been declared after periods of violence
  • Addresses fundamental questions about transitions and justice in societies characterized by a high degree of external involvement and internal fragmentation
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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors vii

1 Transition and Justice: An Introduction 1
Gerhard Anders and Olaf Zenker

2 Making Good Citizens from Bad Life in Post-Genocide Rwanda 21
Simon Turner

3 Performing Repatriation? The Role of Refugee Aid in Shaping New Beginnings in Mauritania 41
Marion Fresia

4 Conflicting Logics of Exceptionality: New Beginnings and the Problem of Police Violence in Post-Apartheid South Africa 65
Steffen Jensen

5 The 2011 Toilet Wars in South Africa: Justice and Transition between the Exceptional and the Everyday after Apartheid 85
Steven Robins

6 New Law against an Old State: Land Restitution as a Transition to Justice in Post-Apartheid South Africa? 113
Olaf Zenker

7 Transitional Justice, States of Emergency and Business as Usual in Sierra Leone 135
Gerhard Anders

8 ‘When we Walk Out, What was it all About?’: Views on New Beginnings from within the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda 153
Nigel Eltringham

9 New Start or False Start? The ICC and Electoral Violence in Kenya 175
Sabine H¨ohn

10 Justice without Peace? International Justice and Conflict Resolution in Northern Uganda 199
Kimberley Armstrong

11 The Violence of Peace: Ethnojustice in Northern Uganda 219
Adam Branch

Index 241

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Author Information

Gerhard Anders is lecturer at the Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh. He has conducted research on the implementation of the good governance agenda, international criminal justice and transitional justice in Africa. He is co-editor of Corruption and the Secret of Law: A Legal Anthropological Perspective (2007) and author of In the Shadow of Good Governance: An Ethnography of Civil Service Reform in Africa (2010).

Olaf Zenker is Junior Professor at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin. He has done research on Irish language revivalism and ethnicity in Northern Ireland and currently studies the moral modernity of the new South African state in the context of its land restitution process. He is the author of Irish/ness Is All Around Us: Language Revivalism and the Culture of Ethnic Identity in Northern Ireland (2013) and co-editor of The State and the Paradox of Customary Law in Africa (2015).


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Transition and Justice offers a useful and timely resource on the diversity of transitional justice in Africa, now the central regional focus of eclectic transitional justice initiatives.  More than that, the book's strength lies in its interdisciplinary approach to the field more generally.  The collection brings a fresh and welcome approach to the field. It identifies three dialectics: 'new beginnings / past', 'lofty ambition / messy reality', and 'exceptional / ordinary' providing a valuable framing of current difficulties with both the theory and practice of transitional justice. It is an excellent book whose appeal goes well beyond those interested in Africa. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in questions of justice and peacebuilding in and beyond Africa, whatever their discipline.’
 Christine Bell, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Edinburgh, UK, author of On the Law of Peace: Peace Agreements and Lex Pacificatoria

‘This superb collection of essays on transitional justice in Africa subjects the conventional language of new beginnings after a period of violence in Africa to rigorous scrutiny. The contributions to Transition and Justice: Negotiating the Terms of New Beginnings in Africa demonstrate the value of fine-grained empirical and ethnographic studies of international justice and aid mechanisms, documenting the continuities with the violent past, and highlighting the discrepancy between the elevated ideals of international humanitarian institutions and the actual justice practices on the ground. The volume is required reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the complex interactions between an international transitional justice agenda and local culture and conceptions of justice.’
— Richard Ashby Wilson, Professor of Anthropology and Law, University of Connecticut, USA, author of Writing History in International Criminal Trials

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