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Roundtable : Transitional Justice Databases as Political Ecologies of Mnemonic Participation

Benedict ‘Bono’ Salazar Olgado, Documentalist, HURIDOCS
Natasha Todi, Program Manager, HURIDOCS
Aghniadi, Regional Communications Coordinator, Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
Dr. Sophia Milosevic Bijleveld, Head of Memorialisation and Victims Participation, Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization
Roula Baghdadi, Executive Director, Dawlaty

In ongoing debates around transitional justice, ubiquitous infrastructures such as databases are largely critically ignored. This is despite the rise of bespoke human rights databases developed and deployed to support the pursuit of various transitional justice processes. We are seeing the datafication of transitional justice where violations are rendered calculable, actors are turned into data, and accountability decisions are founded on digital evidence. Given its epistemic and methodological impact, the transitional justice database must be seen then as source, subject, and object of engagement by not only studying the data it holds, but also understanding the mechanisms and conditions surrounding it.

This panel then looks at the development and utilization of these databases as political ecologies of mnemonic participation. Specifically, we seek to highlight and discuss various methodologies that aim to center the role and participation of victims in data/base and memory work. We will hear from three initiatives across the globe: (1) AHRDO’s art-based approaches granting dignity and recognition to victims and survivors, (2) Dawlaty’s oral history project preserving the memory of social life and conflict by marginalized communities, and (3) AJAR’s participatory and trauma-informed tools for documenting experiences of survivors. We will discuss how these initiatives and their epistemic and methodological assertions are supported, mediated, translated, and limited by data/digital infrastructures. This panel gives attention to the sociotechnical politics of transitional justice infrastructures vis-a-vis victim participation and how they shape the knowledge and practices of the field.