Emotional legacies, transitional justice and alethic truth: a novel basis for exploring reconciliation

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Transitional justice processes seek to address the legacy of past human rights abuses. This article focuses on the emotional dimensions of legacy. It argues that war crimes and human rights abuses leave important emotional legacies that have not received sufficient attention within transitional justice theory or practice, and underscores that any process of ‘dealing with the past’ is necessarily incomplete if powerful emotions connected to that past are overlooked. Drawing on the author’s fieldwork in the Bosnian village of Ahmići, the article aims to demonstrate that the neglect of emotional legacies – which it links to the concept of therapeutic jurisprudence – represents a missed opportunity to explore how the meta emotions that people share constitute potential new bases for building reconciliation in post-conflict societies such as Bosnia-Herzegovina. Reflecting more broadly on the relationship between truth and reconciliation, it emphasizes the utility of alethic truth as a concept that accommodates and draws attention to common emotions – and thus points to unexplored dimensions of the relationship between truth and reconciliation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141–165
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of International Criminal Justice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2020


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