Identity, Reconciliation and Transitional Justice

Overcoming Intractability in Divided Societies

By Nevin T. Aiken

© 2013 – Routledge

272 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415812375
pub: 2014-06-04
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Hardback: 9780415628334
pub: 2013-01-16
US Dollars$145.00

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About the Book

Building upon an interdisciplinary synthesis of recent literature from the fields of transitional justice and conflict transformation, this book introduces a groundbreaking theoretical framework that highlights the critical importance of identity in the relationship between transitional justice and reconciliation in deeply divided societies. Using this framework, Aiken argues that transitional justice interventions will be successful in promoting reconciliation and sustainable peace to the extent that they can help to catalyze those crucial processes of ‘social learning’ needed to transform the antagonistic relationships and identifications that divide post-conflict societies even after the signing of formal peace agreements. Combining original field research and an extensive series of expert interviews, Aiken applies this social learning model in a comprehensive examination of both the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the uniquely ‘decentralized’ approach to transitional justice that has emerged in Northern Ireland. By offering new insight into the experiences of these countries, Aiken provides compelling firsthand evidence to suggest that transitional justice interventions can best contribute to post-conflict reconciliation if they not only provide truth and justice for past human rights abuses, but also help to promote contact, dialogue and the amelioration of structural and material inequalities between former antagonists.

Identity, Reconciliation and Transitional Justice makes a timely contribution to debates about how to best understand and address past human rights violations in post-conflict societies, and it offers a valuable resource to students, scholars, practitioners and policymakers dealing with these difficult issues.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; Identity, Reconciliation and Transitional Justice; 3.A Social Learning Model of Transitional Justice; 4.Transitional Justice in Northern Ireland and South Africa;5. Instrumental Learning; 6. Socioemotional Learning; 7. Distributive Learning; 8. Conclusion:Social Learning and Reconciliation in Divided Societies

About the Author

Nevin T. Aiken is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Global and Area Studies at the University of Wyoming. He researches and teaches in the areas of transitional justice, genocide studies, peace and conflict studies and international relations.

About the Series

Transitional Justice

The study of transitional justice has emerged as one of the most diverse and intellectual exciting developments in the social sciences in the last two decades. From its origins in human rights activism and comparative political science the field is increasingly characterised by its geographic and disciplinary breadth. Routledge’s Transitional Justice series publishes innovative work across a range of disciplines working on transitional justice related topics: including law, sociology, criminology, psychology, anthropology, political science, development studies and international relations.

The series includes titles which address larger theoretical questions on transitional justice, including the intersection of notions such as justice, truth, accountability, impunity and the construction of transitional justice knowledge. It also contains critical and theoretically informed empirical work on the workings of institutions such as truth commissions, community based reconciliation, victim empowerment, ex-combatant demobilisation, or regional discussions on practical programmes in particular areas. Finally, the series covers the legal aspects of transitional justice; although, avoiding dry, overly technical or dull legal texts, it specialises in a style of legal scholarship that reflects the energy and vitality of this exciting field.

For further details on the series please contact the Series Editor.

Kieran McEvoy

Professor of Law and Transitional Justice

School of Law

Queens University Belfast


44 (0) 2890973873

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Comparative
LAW / Criminal Law / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology