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The Introduction will explore discourses surrounding violence, especially the articulation of perpetrators, victims, heroes, and bystanders (whether they be individuals, groups, or institutions). In the aftermath of mass atrocity, identities shift. Many jockey for the victim position. So-called perpetrators during the conflict may find themselves pronounced heroes, or erstwhile heroes may find themselves storied as villains. The newly assigned roles become truth as quickly as the old roles are discarded. These shifting descriptions of characters, events, and roles reveal sentiment on the ground, telling us a great deal about which regime is truly in power and whether groups in conflict may soon retaliate. We will make the argument that discourses are reflective as well as predictive of violence and that peacebuilding requires inquiring even into our own participation in these stereotypes, regardless of the ends we think they will achieve. The argument that exclusion through language is violence will be incorporated into the anthology’s larger framework. We will then situate each essay’s contribution in the larger themes of the book.
The efforts of Syrian Archive and other gathering sites of digital evidence point to something powerful in the way their crimes are being exposed and given public attention. These archives have a power of persuasion with many of the same vindicating and truth-affirming qualities as truth and reconciliation commissions. But the transitional justice that occurs through digital witnessing and open source investigation is unlike that of any previous model. (1) Efforts toward post-conflict justice and nation building can occur while the conflict is ongoing; (2) The form taken by human rights activism has shifted from a focus on victims and the historical context of violence to the technical means of gathering and presenting digital evidence; and (3) At the same time, digital witnessing is able to provide powerful evidence that the crimes victims are narrating actually took place. The close focus of digital fact finding on crimes and their victims makes possible a new kind of witnessing, one that is simultaneously focused on both the instrumental causes and experiences of suffering.
Individuals can assume—and be assigned—multiple roles throughout a conflict: perpetrators can be victims, and vice versa; heroes can be reassessed as complicit and compromised. However, accepting this more accurate representation of the narrativized identities of violence presents a conundrum for accountability and justice mechanisms premised on clear roles. This book considers these complex, sometimes overlapping roles, as people respond to mass violence in various contexts, from international tribunals to NGO-based social movements. Bringing the literature on perpetration in conversation with the more recent field of victim studies, it suggests a new, more effective, and reflexive approach to engagement in post-conflict contexts. Long-term positive peace requires understanding the narrative dynamics within and between groups, demonstrating that the blurring of victim-perpetrator boundaries, and acknowledging their overlapping roles, is a crucial part of peacebuilding processes. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
It is getting increasingly difficult to avoid the notion that justice claims are not limited to the formal venues of law or even the public accountability processes of journalism, but are also expressed in everyday activities of public outreach. We can see this outreach in informal efforts toward mass communication, in graffiti and Internet communication (and connections between the two, as we will see) oriented toward passers-by and browsers, consumers of information, the possible-to-convince sympathizers of the plights of others. This non-professional realm of justice claims tells us something about the extent to which justice is experienced and expressed outside the law, but at the same time through the influence of law. Human rights in particular can be seen as a source of inspiration and expression of new and emerging forms of rights-consciousness and the public expression of grievance.
This volume assembles in one place the work of scholars who are making key contributions to a new approach to the United Nations, and to global organizations and international law more generally. Anthropology has in recent years taken on global organizations as a legitimate source of its subject matter. The research that is being done in this field gives a human face to these world-reforming institutions. Palaces of Hope demonstrates that these institutions are not monolithic or uniform, even though loosely connected by a common organizational network. They vary above all in their powers and forms of public engagement. Yet there are common threads that run through the studies included here: the actions of global institutions in practice, everyday forms of hope and their frustration, and the will to improve confronted with the realities of nationalism, neoliberalism, and the structures of international power.