The Politics of Knowledge and an African Transitional Justice

Analysing Africa as a Constitutive Outside

Authored by: Ulrike Lühe , Briony Jones

Routledge Handbook of African Peacebuilding

Print publication date:  May  2022
Online publication date:  May  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367181949
eBook ISBN: 9780429060038
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter addresses the politics of knowledge in the field of transitional justice. It speaks to topics such as the “Western” origins of transitional justice, the possibilities of an African transitional justice, and the varied actors and claims to knowledge which constitute the transitional justice field. In Africa, these subjects are complicated by the paradox that while African experiences and justice interventions have been fundamental in shaping the field of transitional justice, the field itself is still dominated by ideas seen as emanating from the Global North. This chapter critically analyses the founding moments of transitional justice, as well as the way Africa is cast as both absence and presence as the field emerges and becomes established. Viewing Africa as a “constitutive outside” of transitional justice, the chapter argues that African and Western approaches interlink, refer to, and build upon each other. However, whilst Western contributions to and influence on African transitional justice debates is acknowledged, and indeed often foregrounded, this is rarely the case for African contributions.

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