In the past two decades a concern with ‘victim participation’ has come to dominate transitional justice scholarship and practice. Participation, it has been argued, can be both a locus and driver of transformative change. Meaningful participation allegedly foregrounds lived experiences and reflexive understandings of rights that underpin various agendas for justice and redress.
In an ideal scenario, participation in formal transitional justice mechanisms may offer opportunities to people who have experienced violence to subvert injustices. Innovative participation schemes have therefore been developed in various countries and settings. And a rich body of literature has emerged that on the one hand addresses questions of participatory modalities, and on the other, formulates a rich critique of current participation discourse(s).
It has become widely accepted that, in order to understand what meaningful participation could look like, we need to look beyond the formal institutions of transitional justice. People who have experienced violence often engage in various informal spaces and processes that exist before, after and around these formal participation opportunities. This conference takes these participation ecologies as a starting point.
We focus on the trajectory of actions undertaken by victims in their struggle for accountability, truth, repair, non-recurrence, memorialization, redress, and disruption of a harmful status quo. These trajectories unfold across formal and informal spaces, involve multiple phases and forms of engagement, and necessitate a process-based and open-ended exploration of outcomes that emerge at various moments in these trajectories.
The conference will bring together scholars and practitioners working on topics related to these justice-seeking trajectories of conflict-affected individuals and groups, from the Global South and North, from a range of disciplines, and adopting a range of methods or practices in their work.
Together we will reflect on the most important evolutions in the field. We will build and expand on the extant (academic and practical) knowledge-base to theorize participation in formal and informal spaces as pathways of change. In doing so, we will re-imagine the future of ‘victim participation’.
CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS
We invite proposals speaking to one of four themes, which will be used as an organizing principle throughout the conference. We welcome both theoretical contributions and empirical work, but will give preference to proposals using empirical insights as a basis for theorizing (dimensions of) the following themes.
STREAM 1 • Institutional innovation and impact
While we propose an ecological approach, we also acknowledge that formal transitional justice mechanisms continue to have a decisive importance in many transitional justice processes and for many victims. We will therefore explore which innovations are happening on the side of institutional actors, and what the micro-, meso-, and macro effects thereof are. The following questions will guide our conversations:
STREAM 2 • Participation as lived experience
People who step in and out of formal and informal participation spaces bring certain expectations, experiences, epistemologies and ambitions with them, which may alter or be altered by the spaces in which they participate. This thematic stream examines how these lived experiences and (non-)scripted spaces interact. We examine:
STREAM 3 • Epistemic and methodological diversity
As transitional justice discourses and tools travelled to new contexts, and as the voice of critical transitional justice scholars became more prominent, some of the foundational principles of transitional justice have been called into question. This has resulted in a necessary deconstruction of taken-for-granted dimensions of transitional justice, from its ontological and epistemological roots to its predominant (legal) approaches. It also raised new questions about how to reconstruct the practice of transitional justice on the basis of these new knowledge approaches.
STREAM 4 • Beyond participation
When approaching participation in an ecological manner and as a trajectory, the very concept potentially comes to mean something completely different from how it has typically been approached in academic and practitioner debates. This thematic stream looks beyond participation in formal and paradigmatic transitional justice mechanisms at other dynamics that have a potentially more radical, disruptive or innovative potential.
We invite proposals for panels, papers and other (creative) formats.
We encourage the submission of proposals for online participation, and will rank those submissions that propose creative ways of engaging online higher among equals, in order to ensure that also online formats become inspiring and dynamic conversations. For technical reasons, we cannot, however, accept hybrid panels with some online and some offline presentations.
While we cannot guarantee simultaneous interpretation through the conference, we invite proposals in English, Spanish, French or Arabic, and will seek to organize a meaningful and substantial program also for those who are not comfortable in English.
All panel or round table submissions should include:
All proposals for paper submissions or other formats should include:
Only submissions received by 15 September 2023 via the submit button at the bottom of this page will be considered by the organizers. Please indicate in your submission whether you wish to apply for financial support. Please note that only limited funding is available, and that Global South participants will be prioritized.
|Sept. 15, 2023||Deadline for submission of abstracts|
|Oct. 27, 2023||Authors are informed about the outcome of the selection process|
|Nov. 10, 2023||Candidates for financial support informed of outcome selection process|
|Nov. 13, 2023||Registration for delegates opens|
|Jan. 10, 2023||Registration for delegates ends|
|Feb. 23, 2024||Deadline for submission of papers|
|March 13-15, 2024||Conference|
While we will organize the conference as a Ghent-based event, we are concerned about the climate emergency, and warmly invite proposals for online submissions. Also in person panels will be livestreamed to serve global audiences. For those attending the Ghent-based event in person, we strongly encourage you to use public transport for your travel whenever possible. We will ensure local, sustainable, and vegan/vegetarian catering throughout the event.
Justice Visions is based at the Human Rights Centre of the Faculty of Law and Criminology of Ghent University. Academic sessions will take place in the beautiful and historical Sint-Pieters Abbey in the city center of Ghent. In addition to the academic program, there will also be a social and cultural program which will take place at various locations throughout the city center. More information about this will be shared with applicants in due course. If you have mobility or dietary restrictions, please inform us, and we will try to accommodate these throughout the entire program.
While the conference will be primarily in person, we seek to be as inclusive as possible, and commit to exploring virtual participation options as well as to livestreaming plenaries for global audiences.
There are no conference fees. Catering during the conference is provided free of charge, and participants are welcome to join the cultural program free of charge. We also foresee accommodation and travel stipends for a limited number of low-income participants. We can, however, not cover accommodation and travel costs for all participants. If you wish to apply for a travel grant, please feel out the relevant fields during the submission process.
You can share information and updates about this conference using #JusticeVisions.
For practical questions and further information, please email JusticeVisions@Ugent.be.