The Holocaust & Transitional Justice (S)


Transitional justice institutions are legal and quasi-legal mechanisms through which states and societies attempt to address past wrongs, such as criminal trials and truth commissions. Transitional justice scholarship studies these responses to collective violence and asks how these responses affect collective memory and democratization. Since the 1990s we witness important innovations, with victim testimonies given a central role, didactic goals such as clarifying history and shaping collective memory recognized as official goals of the legal process, and the development of a human right to truth. These innovations are understood as offering an alternative to the legalist approach of criminal law -- one that espouses ideals of "restorative justice." This seminar critically examines this claim with a careful study of the building blocks of transitional justice. It argues that they can be traced back to Holocaust trials, and in particular to the Eichmann trial that took place in 1961 in Jerusalem. The course charts the contribution of Holocaust trials to transitional justice practice and debates, focusing on the new role of victims in transitional justice processes, the centrality of truth-seeking, and the new relations between law and history. Finally, the seminar examines the feminist critique of international law launched in the 1990s around the ad-hoc tribunals of former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and how the development of a gender sensitive jurisprudence conjoined with the rise of the witness in Holocaust trials to offer a new Justice formed around victims and testimonies. ENROLLMENT LIMIT: 15 students. NOTES: This seminar does not satisfy the Upper-class Writing Requirement. ** A student who fails to attend the initial meeting of a seminar (designated by an (S) in the title), or to obtain permission to be absent from either the instructor or the Registrar, may be administratively dropped from the seminar. Students who are on a wait list for a seminar are required to attend the first seminar meeting to be considered for enrollment.