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Plenary Session ‘Looking Back: Challenges, Opportunities & Disruption in TJ Research’

The ERC project originally aimed to chart some of the unforeseen outcomes of victim participation in formal transitional justice avenues. This was rooted in the critique that standardized transitional justice interventions are often insufficiently context-sensitive and might interact with people’s rights consciousness. While this remains a valid concern, it emerged from the fieldwork that there is a much more multi-directional web of interactions and effects that arises when people who experienced violence engage within, alongside or in opposition to formal transitional justice processes. It also became evident that numerous informal spaces adopt the label of transitional justice. This points to a dynamic where formal processes not only influence grassroots actors but also vice versa, resulting in numerous complex interaction effects.

In this plenary session moderated by Dr. Evelyne Schmid, Justice Visions researchers will consider some cross-cutting issues that have shaped the project. Looking back to the origins of the project, they will address some unexpected findings that have challenged working hypotheses or assumptions. These unexpected findings have presented new challenges for the field of transitional justice to address.

These include engaging with and developing methodological innovations, bridging various epistemes, and navigating increasingly complex landscapes of transitional justice practices and victim participation in them. Additionally, the researchers will examine the concept of victims’ participation in diverse transitional justice processes as ecosystems, and how this perspective shapes our understanding of victims’ initiatives. They will also analyze the relationship between victims’ actions and innovations in transitional justice, considering whether victims are driven by these innovations or the drivers of these innovations.