Workshop Memories of political violence, transitional justice and Europe across time and place: Interdisciplinary perspectives

112 - Muirhead Tower
Social Sciences
Monday 29th April 2019 (09:30-17:00)
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The International Development Department (IDD) of the University of Birmingham is pleased to invite participants for its forthcoming interdisciplinary workshop Memories of political violence, transitional justice and Europe across time and place: Interdisciplinary perspectives. This one-day workshop takes place at the University of Birmingham on Monday 29 April 2019.

Transitional justice (TJ) has come to be seen as part and parcel of internationally accepted approaches to dealing with conflict and political violence. Originally applied in periods of transition after conflict or authoritarian rule, the application and scope of TJ has expanded to broader cases of political violence, like the war on terror, and periods of political turmoil around elections. Nevertheless, there are limits to the contexts in which TJ is commonly applied, which raise questions about the moral foundations of transitional justice as a project. For example, the West seems to be reluctant to analyse its own role in conflicts, as well as the crimes committed during the period of colonialism and the wars that ended it. The relationship between transitional justice and colonialism is still under-researched. Memory studies have touched more profoundly upon this issue, and therefore this workshop brings together researchers in the fields of history, memory studies and transitional justice to discuss and explore the potential or responsibility of TJ to deal with the colonial past.

Another ongoing debate within TJ is its use of often narrow definitions of victims and perpetrators, generally based on degrees of innocence and responsibility, which do not necessarily do justice to the complexity of political violence. These definitions, however, tend to determine who is eligible to benefit from TJ, and risk excluding certain survivors from benefiting from it. Through these rigid categories, TJ thus draws moral lines which can determine the way in which a post-conflict society is structured. This workshop will provide a space to discuss such ethical questions. It will place a special focus on the case of Portugal, where the perpetrators and victims of different rounds of revolutionary and counter-revolutionary violence have been treated differently. Other cases to be discussed will be Spain, where TJ has been largely influenced by the agreement that the past should not be stirred up since all parties were equally responsible, and Northern Ireland.

This workshop offers a space to explore the different ways in which TJ should address the political violence committed in and by Europe. It will be organised around the following two key themes:

  • Transitional justice and the legacies of colonialism and colonial wars: perspectives from the former colonies and colonisers
  • Transitional justice in Europe: addressing victimhood, agency, and memories

These themes will be addressed through presentations and roundtable discussions by leading international researchers, including Dr Luke Moffett and Dr Cheryl Lawther (Queen’s University Belfast), Dr Filipa Raimundo (University of Lisbon), Dr Vincent Druliolle (Carlos III University of Madrid), Dr Sara Arauja, Dr Natalia Bueno, and Dr Paula Duarte (University of Coimbra), Dr Khanyisela Moyo (Ulster University), Lucy Geddes (LSE), Dr Hakeem Yusuf and Dr Joanthan Fisher (University of Birmingham) and Dr Ana Sofia Ferreira (Nova University of Lisbon) and Niall Ó Dochartaigh (University of Galway).

Registration for participation:

The IDD would like to open this workshop for attendance by post-graduate researchers and early career researchers. Spaces are limited for this, and registration is required. In order to express your interest to participate, please send an email to by Friday 5 April 2019, expressing your name, institutional affiliation, the topic of your research and your interest for participating (max. 200 words, please).

Kindly note that there will be no charges for attending the workshop, but participants have to meet their own travel costs.