Title: Writing the history of violence anew: rethinking transitional justice a psycho-social perspective

Authors: Caterina Sirna

Addresses: UNESCO Chair on Education for Human Rights Democracy and Peace at The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation, Monastery of San Nicolò, Riviera San Nicolò 26, 30126 Venice Lido, Italy

Abstract: This research attempts to explore the possibilities of rethinking the mechanism of transitional justice within a new framework stemming from psychological and social science. Rather than focusing on the debate whether it is better to punish or to forgive past wrongdoings, it points out the necessity of fully respecting the memory of suffering in order to create a healing narrative. As victims of mass atrocities or totalitarian regimes are told to be unique and qualitative different from victims of ordinary crimes, this paper has attempted to conciliate both the juridical and psychological language in order to promote a holistic framework which is necessary for dealing with a society shattered by armed conflict or autocratic suppression. Therefore, reconciliation in juridical terms has been broadened in order to include psychological components as emotions attitude and behaviours. The concept of healing, revenge, forgiveness and memory has been clarified in order to give more attention to individual psychological processes and respond to those demands.

Keywords: reconciliation; psychological healing; revenge; forgiveness; punishment; amnesia; memory; narrative; crimes against humanity; psycho-social perspective; transitional justice; violence; mass atrocities; totalitarian regimes; armed conflict; autocratic suppression; emotions; attitudes; behaviours.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHRCS.2014.067886

International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, 2014 Vol.2 No.4, pp.357 - 383

Received: 19 Nov 2014
Accepted: 10 Dec 2014

Published online: 06 Mar 2015 *

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