New Social and Legal Studies article by Dr Cheryl Lawther
‘Let Me Tell You’: Transitional Justice, Victimhood and Dealing with a Contested Past
Title: ‘Let Me Tell You’: Transitional Justice, Victimhood and Dealing with a Contested Past
Author: Cheryl Lawther
Type of Publication: Journal
Publisher: Social and Legal Studies
Published Date: 23rd November 2020
This article explores the intersection between the politics and construction of victimhood in transitional societies and the use of truth recovery as a platform for the creation of hierarchies of truth. It explores how, in a context of contested victimhood and an unresolved past, the ‘political currency’ of victimhood may lead to the domination and embellishment of certain voices and narratives and the concurrent silencing of others. As this article will then demonstrate, when applied to the debate on truth recovery, the capturing of victims’ voice and agency can manifest in a damaging ‘truth as trumps’ dynamic and recourse to ‘whataboutery’ in which one call for truth or the recovery of truth as significant to one side of the community is countered by that of a more ‘significant’ or more ‘important’ truth on the part of the other. The paper argues for the inculcation of a culture political generosity in transitional contexts as a way to begin to ameliorate these challenges.