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About the course

Every post-genocide and post-conflict society faces the difficult decision of how it will deal with a violent past in order to promote a more peaceful present and future. Given the susceptibility of past violence to erupt into new hostilities when it goes unaddressed, the way a society understands and responds to its own past can indeed be a force for prevention of future genocide and atrocities. This course will examine the various ways societies can and have dealt with past violence and human rights abuses--a field otherwise known as transitional justice. Despite what its name may imply, transitional justice includes all juridical and non-juridical means a society takes to address past human rights abuses. Over the course of this course, we will investigate how a number of countries have dealt with a history of violence, analyzing the effectiveness and preventive power of the measures taken. The course will focus both on traditionally recognized modes of transitional justice (criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, institutional reform, and reparations), but also more novel forms that are not as often discussed (memorialization and the creation of memory sites, cultural outreach, economic reform, and education).  Rather than offering an unqualified celebration of the power of transitional justice, this course seeks to promote a critical and refined reading of transitional justice strategies, with the notion that the strategies that succeed most often (though certainly not always) offer no "silver bullet," but instead tend to involve a multilateral approach that incorporates all sectors of a society. 

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