Transitional Justice, Memory and Histories Unwanted

In cooperation with the Illustere School

18May2017 17:15 - 18:15


Nanci Adler, Professor of Memory, History and Transitional Justice at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam will give a special lecture on non-legal practices to support societies in dealing with traumatic events. She will especially focus on post-Soviet Russia.

Since the 1970s, an array of legal and non-legal practices – labelled Transitional Justice – has been developed to support post-repressive, post-authoritarian, and post-conflict societies in dealing with their traumatic past. Its many mechanisms for redressing often irreparable harms include international criminal tribunals, truth commissions, and the establishment of monuments and museums. One of the systemic flaws in the early approaches to transitional justice was the expectation that achieving justice in post-repressive states would be correlated with achieving reconciliation. These models, however, regularly failed to reconcile or sufficiently address the competing narratives of history that persist in post-repressive societies. This deficit particularly hinders efforts to deal with the ‘hard’ cases where transitional justice is not on the state agenda, where it is restricted or resisted, or where it is ambivalently implemented, but its achievements are undermined by divisive narratives that justify the repression of rights.

After a general introduction, this talk will focus on post-Soviet Russia, where there is a persistent trend to manage national and public memory by repressing the memory of repression. This trend is characterized by the ongoing struggle to determine which truths are admitted to the public space. It will look at as well as through Russia to identify impediments to transitional justice that are similar to those found in a number of post- and still-repressive societies that have been unable, unwilling or resistant to embrace transitional justice measures. 

About the speaker

Nanci Adler is Professor of Memory, History, and Transitional Justice at the University of Amsterdam and Director of Research at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies. She is the author of, among others, Keeping Faith with the Party: Communist Believers Return from the Gulag (2012), The Gulag Survivor (2002), and numerous scholarly articles on the consequences of Stalinism. Her current research focuses on transitional justice, memory, and the legacies of Communism and mass political repression. 


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Published by  Spui25