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Aftermaths of Conflict - POL00092M

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Paul Gready
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

Transitional justice emerged in the 1980s and 1990s as a human rights-based approach to conflicted pasts. Since the post-Cold War period of global possibility, transitional justice mechanisms have become a standard element of post-conflict settlements. Despite the growth of transitional justice into a global industry, evaluations have highlighted disappointing impacts.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

This interdisciplinary module aims to address the following question: How do countries that have experienced conflict and authoritarian rule seek to address, and move on from, their troubled pasts? It will chiefly focus on transitional justice as a means to this end, but will also engage with critiques of transitional justice and with insights from adjacent fields (security sector reform, etc.). A range of case studies will be drawn on to illustrate challenges, debates and innovations from the field of transitional justice.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Understand the contexts of contemporary conflicts.
  • Critically engage with the four pillars of transitional justice (truth-telling, justice and prosecutions, reparations, and guarantees of non-repetition) and the strengths and weaknesses of different mechanisms.
  • Evaluate international and domestic policy options for transitional justice interventions.
  • Make informed choices about the prioritization and sequencing of interventions.
  • Place transitional justice in the context of current global challenges (rising inequality, austerity, populism, etc.).

Module content

This module will analyse the emergence, diffusion and growing critique of transitional justice. Having explored definitions and origins, one week will be set aside to analyse each of the ‘four pillars’ of transitional justice: truth-telling, justice and prosecutions, reparations, and guarantees of non-repetition. The second half of the module will assess a set of cross-cutting issues:

1) The paradox of victimhood, addressing the possibilities and dangers of positioning victimhood as a primary post-conflict political identity.

2) The challenges of the ‘grey zone’, explored both in terms of countries that are situated between conflict and peace, neither democracies nor democratizing; and in terms of complex identities which do not fit into the neat categories of transitional justice (victim, perpetrator).

3) The (im)possibility of reconciliation, deliberating on whether post-conflict societies need reconciliation, and if so how reconciliation can be enhanced.

4) The tension between transition and transformation, providing a means of engaging with the critique that contemporary transitions are characterized by forms of political change (power passing from one elite group to another), but with little by way of fundamental socio-economic transformation.

The module convenor has worked on transitional justice in South Africa, Rwanda and Tunisia – the module will draw on examples from these and other case studies.


Task Length % of module mark
Reading Diary
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Reading Diary
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Annika Björkdahl, Kristine Höglund, Gearoid Millar, Jair van der Lijn and Willemijn Verkoren (eds). Peacebuilding and Friction: Global and Local Encounters in Post-Conflict Countries. (Abingdon, Oxon.: Routledge, 2016).

Roger Duthie and Paul Seils (eds). Justice Mosaics: How Context Shapes Transitional Justice in Fractured Societies. (New York: International Centre for Transitional Justice, 2017).

Paul Gready and Simon Robins (eds). From Transitional to Transformative Justice. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Eric Stover and Harvey Weinstein (eds). My Neighbor, My Enemy: Justice and Community in the Aftermath of Mass Atrocity. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

Aisling Swaine. Conflict-related Violence against Women : Transforming Transition. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.