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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: December 2020

Introduction

Summary

The first part contains chapters examining theoretical approaches to transitional justice. O’Rourke sets the stage by examining the diversity and evolution of feminist engagement with international law and reflects on efforts to ensure domestic gender justice. She details contemporary feminist criticism of international criminal law, which has been seen as sexualising and infantilising women as ‘victims’ and silencing individual women and more ‘radical’ feminist critiques. While not disregarding the criticisms, O’Rourke reminds us of the relationship or ‘boomerang pattern’ that can exist between international and domestic norms and thus, the relationship between international law and specific studies of gender and transitional justice. Looking in particular at the case of Chile and its efforts to deal with its troubled past, she argues that feminist perspectives on international criminal law could facilitate the transfer of knowledge and precedents between the international and the domestic levels of justice to the benefit of both terrains.

In Chapter 2, Ni Aoláin focuses us on the ongoing development of theory and practice through the creation of a ‘genealogy’ that looks at the engagement of feminist scholars with the discourses and activities of transitional justice. Recognising there are various conceptual or theoretical threads to this feminist engagement, as well as recognising the limits of law as an instrument of ‘justice’ due to its need for essentalised categories, she advocates feminists proceed with both caution and concern. She looks at how knowledge in the area is being and has been produced and by whom. Noting that women are now present and wellpositioned within the field, Ni Aolain urges that it is time to pause and reflect on just how feminist theory might productively transform our understanding of basic concepts, even that of transition itself. The essay offers some insight into what still needs to be done in order to develop a feminist theory and practice of transitional justice that can address the actual needs and harms of real women in particular transitional situations.

Gray and Levin introduce the concept of ‘extraordinary justice’ and attendant theoretical insights in Chapter 3.