Taking the Next Step Toward an Aesthetics of Tranformative Transitional Justice

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The field of transitional justice has made a turn towards transformation over the past years, focusing on social and economic rights (violations) in addition to legal and political rights. It purports to analyze the social realm on a deeper level than transitional justice could, foregrounding bottom-up and grassroots processes and open-ended practices that serve to unleash transformative dynamics on the local level. Despite the fact that its expanded scope places significant demands on both researchers and policymakers, the ways in which its transformative tools operate, and the way its goals are to be achieved, remain severely under-analyzed. The discipline of political aesthetics can help to remedy these shortcomings. Its analytical capacities and practical strategies with regard to the (re)constitution of social meanings and values are precisely what transformative justice lacks. Despite this, the only scholar to systematically attempt to bring the two fields together is Carrol Clarkson. Whereas she does not explicitly situate her work in the theoretical framework of transitional justice, let alone that of transformative justice, Clarkson takes a solid first step towards an ‘aesthetics of transitional justice’. This thesis aims to take the next step. It constructs a theoretical framework that explicitly incorporates political aesthetic theory in transformative transitional justice, and uses said framework to analyze the merits and shortcomings of Clarkson’s work. It then employs these findings in its selection and analysis of several Colombian transitional aesthetic phenomena, testing the reproducibility of the South African dynamics Clarkson discovered, and applying the parts of the theoretical framework she leaves unaddressed. The thesis will conclude with a (re)formulation of the analytical and practical use of political aesthetics for transformative transitional justice.
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