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Featured abstracts from 2017 Crime & Justice in Asia & the Global South Conference

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Next year, the Crime and Justice Research Centre will co-host the Crime and Justice in Asia and the Global South International Conference with the Asian Criminological Society. The conference will be held in Cairns from 10-13 July 2017 and will feature international speakers:

  • Professor Rosemary Barberet;
  • Professor Jiahong Liu;
  • Professor John Braithwaite; and
  • Professor Raewyn Connell.

To showcase the diversity of topics that will be presented during the conference, each week the CJRC blog will feature an accepted abstract from a presenter.

This week’s featured abstract is from Dr. Julia Viebach, from the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford. Dr Viebach is also a successful recipient of an CJRC Early-Career Researcher Scholarship in Southern Criminology.

Last month, the CJRC awarded eleven successful applicants from around the world with Early-Career Researcher and Senior Fellow scholarships in Southern Criminology. The main purpose of the scholarships are to support the travel and attendance to the 2017 conference and to support collaborative research with CJRC scholars on topics related to developing the projects of Southern Criminology. A list of the successful applicants can be accessed here.

Featured abstract:

“On Narrative, Trauma and Testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Rwandan Gacaca Courts” by Julia Viebach, University of Oxford.

This paper will contrast the production of legal meaning through witnessing in two different settings: the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the localised Rwandan Gacaca courts. It applies a trauma studies lens to a (quasi) legal phenomenon, and uses the insights of narrative studies to illuminate legal obscurities. In other words, it proposes a novel methodology by reading trauma into the narratives that emerge on the witness stand at the International Tribunal and reading those against the narratives constructed at the Rwandan Gacaca courts. Analysing the archival documents, it will ask: how is the atrocity narrated in the two different settings? How is the trauma addressed, responded to, or silenced? And how can we make sense of the act of witnessing in (quasi) legal proceedings? The paper will focus on a particular massacre site, the Nyange church, where the ICTR tried the most responsible individual, priest Athanase Seromba, and the Gacaca court tried the ones who carried out the killings. In doing so, the paper explores the silences and the gaps that cut through witness testimonies in both an international juridical initiative and a local pursuit of justice. This, in turn, will enable us to learn from the local experience which can not only inform international trials, but also localised justice initiatives in other parts of the global south. Importantly, this paper challenges the calls for more victim participation in legal proceedings globally, by showing that what must be heard in court cannot be articulated in legal language.

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