Call for Papers International Conference: “Criminalising Violent Pasts: Multiple Roots and Forgotten Pathways 1950s-2010s”
London South Bank University
15-16 November 2018
Deadline for submissions: 31 May 2018
Over the last half century, discourses and practices connected to the idea that violent or dictatorial pasts should be marked as criminal have proliferated. A variety of actors – from victims groups to social movements, to expert groups such as lawyers, museums specialists and even economists – have contributed to the emergence and circulation of the notion that political violence could only be overcome through its criminalization in courts, lustration procedures, history writing, activism or memorial sites. Produced across different fields of action and expertise, this assumption has become dominant in the political and judicial sphere at a global level and has permeated many political cultures and everyday life practices. Even where decriminalisation (amnesties, pardons, closure of archives) prevailed, debates worked within the set of assumptions about the past established through this globally expanding paradigm.
Despite its dominance, we still lack a truly international history of its roots. This is in part because modern day practices of criminalisation often play down their own historicity. Coming of age at the so-called ‘end of history’, their promoters came to see their application as a natural end point in the achievement of human rights, democracy or good governance. When histories are offered, they too often provide a rather linear narrative that links these developments to – mainly Western – political processes established to address the legacies of Nazism after World War Two. Such accounts have also commonly resisted incorporation into broader frameworks supplied, for example, by histories of globalization, neoliberalism or postcolonialism. Only recently have a few authors sought to make sense of the emergence of the modern criminalisation paradigm in new ways, connecting it, for example, to the rise of the homo economicus and a concomitant individualistic approach to human rights.
This conference seeks to explore the history of the (often forgotten) pathways and contested visions through which the criminalization paradigm developed. This conference welcomes contributions that explore the emergence of multiple, potentially competitive visions of criminal pasts. Taking as its starting point the moment of an acceleration of decolonisation, globalisation and de-Stalinisation in the 1950s, we encourage papers that explore the variety of actors, activisms and political projects that lay behind the global expansion of such ideas. Human rights organisations, international legal associations, post-colonial and Communist states, all variously developed the idea of overcoming criminal pasts as they sought, to legitimate new political projects, reconceptualise the relationship between the individual and the state, or seek collective or socio-economic justice for past wrongs. We welcome papers that, for example, address the complexity and interplay of these ideas in different arenas and seek to connect these phenomena to wider literatures. We are also wary of easy teleologies, and are as interested in the histories of the marginalization of some visions, as in the growing dominance of others.
Papers might address the following topics:
Historicisation. How did processes of criminalisation/decriminalisation of fascism, authoritarianism, colonialism, communism, and other violent historical episodes evolve over time? What were their political/ideological roots and consequences, and how did they influence each other? Which particular paradigms of criminalisation were internationalised or globalised from the 1950s? What turning points can we identify in the shift of these paradigms at international and regional levels (e.g. decolonisation in the 1960s, the end of Cold War)?
Rethinking Paradigms. Are there new historical frameworks into which the history of criminalising violent pasts could be written? The history of neoliberalism? Or postcolonialism? Should it bring together traditions of scholarship, which have often remained separate? (e.g. postcolonialism and communism; histories of the ‘semi-periphery’ with those from ‘the West’).
Rethinking ‘Third Wave Criminalisation’ (1980s-). How might these multiple histories help us understand the values and practices of ‘third wave criminalisation’ in new ways? Which groups and alliances helped produce this? Were alternative visions of historical culpability marginalised, or did they survive? Does such a historicisation enable us more fully to appreciate the variety of visions and practices that constitute this recent criminalisation paradigm?
Rethinking Actors. How did states, social movements, peace keepers, or experts produce ideas about what should be criminalised and in which ways? How did actors generally unrecognised – such as socialist and other authoritarian states, or professional groups such as economists –produce and globalise new paradigms? Do we over-privilege the role of western actors in this account? How do relevant actors change over time? (e.g. from states to non-state actors including private individuals and companies)?
Rethinking Chronologies. How did the meanings, relevance and objects of criminalisation shift over time? How were specific crimes selected as subject to criminalisation at particular moments, which were sidelined, and why? How are the processes of criminalisation linked to processes of politicization or de-politicisation of past conflicts and violence? Was there a move from collective/ systemic criminalisation to one based around the idea of individual crime and responsibility?
Abstracts of 300-500 words, together with an accompanying short CV should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 May 2018. The selected participants will be notified by the end of June 2018. Financial support for travel and accommodation is available, but we ask that contributors also explore funding opportunities at their home institutions.
“Historical Reckoning in Belarus” is the latest chapter published by Dr Nelly Bekus. This forms part of the edited volume Transitional Justice and the Former Soviet Union: Reviewing the Past, Looking Toward the Future published by Cambridge University Press, February 2018. It is considered the most comprehensive account to date of post-Soviet efforts to address, distort, ignore, or recast the past through the use, manipulation, and obstruction of transitional justice measures and memory politics initiatives. Editors Cynthia M. Horne and Lavinia Stan have gathered contributions by top scholars in the field, allowing the disparate post-communist studies and transitional justice scholarly communities to come together and reflect on the past and its implications for the future of the region.
Bekus’ chapter takes an alternative view to most scholars of post-communist transitional justice, who primarily consider the reckoning programs adopted by various former Soviet republics after they declared their independence in 1991. Instead she examines initiatives passed as a result of Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika in 1987–91, measures introduced in 1990–4, and more recent
efforts under Lukashenka. She also focuses on the transitional justice initiatives promoted by the Soviet and post-Soviet governments, as well as those proposed since 1991 by the opposition to Lukashenka, formed from the nationalist Belarusian People’s Front (BPF) and civil society organisations, such as the Association of Victims of Political Repression, the Saving Kurapaty organization, Memorial, and others.
Raluca Grosescu’s latest article has been published in the International Journal of Transitional Justice. The article entitled Judging Communist Crimes in Romania: Transnational and Global Influences, shows how the current shifts in Romanian jurisprudence have been built upon, and have drawn inspiration from, a recent global convergence towards the use of ICL for addressing the crimes of dictatorial regimes and the obstacles to their prosecution, such as amnesties or statutory limitations.
In 2016, over 25 years after the fall of the communist regime, the Romanian Supreme Court of Justice convicted for the first time two former military officials for political crimes perpetrated in the 1950s, the harshest repressive period of the previous dictatorship. The verdicts marked a radical break with the prior legal approaches to prosecuting communist crimes in this country inasmuch as international criminal law (ICL) was now employed in order to overcome impunity. This article shows how the current shifts in Romanian jurisprudence have been built upon, and have drawn inspiration from, a recent global convergence towards the use of ICL for addressing the crimes of dictatorial regimes and the obstacles to their prosecution, such as amnesties or statutory limitations. It emphasizes the importance of noncoercive exogenous influences in enabling changes in the Romanian process of dealing with the past.
Interested in transnational and global dimensions of justice and memory processes? Would you like to hear papers from three of our 1989 after 1989 academics covering topics such as transnational perspectives on the Kurapaty Memorial Site and transnational advocacy networks and corporate liability for international crimes?
The conference Transnational and Global Dimensions of Justice and Memory Processes in Europe and Latin America will be held in Paris on 8-9 June and the programme is now available.
Transnational and Global Dimensions of Justice and Memory Processes in Europe and Latin America
June 8-9, 2017
Institut culturel roumain
1 rue de l’exposition, Paris
Justice and memory processes that had accompanied the “third wave of democratisation” have been the subject of a large body of academic literature. These works have commonly taken certain approaches. Some have analysed these processes within national borders or by providing comparative accounts of countries seen as discrete units, disconnected from transnational or global developments. Others, by contrast, have tried to account for the criminalization of dictatorships and conflicts in terms of the emergence of international norms based on an ethics of human rights and a “cosmopolitan memory” – often driven by a decontextualized remembrance of the Holocaust. This scholarship has however tended to overgeneralize global trends without always grasping the complexity of local attempts at dealing with the past. In the last ten years, a third approach, focusing on specific transnational entanglements, has gained ground. This emerging literature has started to analyze empirically transnational activism, exchanges of knowledge and expertise at bilateral, regional or international levels, the impact of legal and mnemonic narratives outside their countries of origin, and the role of international organizations and NGOs in dealing with mass violence.
Focusing on Europe and Latin America, this conference aims to take stock of this transnational turn in justice and memory studies and to develop a socio-historical analysis of the circulation of norms, repertoires of collective action and models adopted to deal with the legacies of authoritarian regimes and armed conflicts. It seeks to trace the interconnections and mutual influences of these processes both within Europe and Latin America and between the two regions, as well as the mobilizations of European and Latin American actors in international institutions, global NGOs, or at venues on other continents.
State Socialism, Legal Experts and the Genesis of International Criminal and Humanitarian Law after 1945
November 24-26, 2016
Humboldt University of Berlin
Unter den Linden 6
The programme for our international collaborative conference with the Leipzig Centre for the History and Culture of East-Central Europe (GWZO), and the Humboldt University of Berlin is now available. It will take place on the 24-26 November, 2016 at Unter den Linden 6, Room 2249a, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany.
It brings together 3 research projects – 1989 after 1989, Processes of Juridification in International Relations since 1850 based at Leipzig and Jurists in International Politics Practice and Practitioners of International Law in the 19th and 20th Century based in Berlin.
In the history of international law, the socialist bloc has been generally relegated to the role of roadblock in fulfilling the ideals of Western liberalism. This conference seeks to question established narratives that have ignored or downplayed the role of state-socialist governments and legal experts in shaping the evolution of international criminal and humanitarian law after the end of the Second World War. With a geographic scope covering the Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc, Africa, and China, the conference explores the socialist world’s doctrines and international engagements concerning the codification of different international crimes (including crimes against peace, the crimes of aggression, Apartheid, terrorism, slavery, narcotics trafficking and more), approaches to humanitarian intervention, and the relationship between state sovereignty and international law. The conference advances the idea that rather than simply block progress, socialist initiatives played a vital role in the production of norms and ideas that continue to be relevant for the current international criminal and humanitarian legal system.
The conference commences at 14:00 on the 24 November with a welcome address and introduction from the conference organisers – Marcus Payk, Humboldt University of Berlin; Dietmar Mueller and Stefan Troebst, GWZO Leipzig; Raluca Grosescu, University of Exeter and Ned Richardson-Little, University of Exeter. Papers will then be presented that deal with International Criminal Law and International Humanitarian Law in socialist legal doctrines.
Panels on the following day will include papers on state socialist contributions to and critiques of the Geneva Conventions; decolonisation, gender, and International Humanitarian Law, state socialist contributions to International Criminal Law; and Transnational Criminality. The final day will debate International Criminal Law in state socialist national settings and will include case studies from China and Hungary.
Humboldt University of Berlin
The University of Exeter, the Leipzig Centre for the History and Culture of East-Central Europe (GWZO), and the Humboldt University of Berlin
24 – 26 November 2016
Call for Papers Deadline: 15 June 2016
State Socialism, Legal Experts and the Genesis of International Criminal and Humanitarian Law after 1945
In the history of international law, the socialist bloc has been generally relegated to the role of roadblock to the fulfillment of the ideals of Western liberalism. Scholars of international criminal law (ICL) and international humanitarian law (IHL) have often dismissed the contributions of socialist legal initiatives as little more than Cold War propaganda and thus irrelevant to understanding the historical evolution of judicial norms and the modern international system. The establishment of different international tribunals since the collapse of the Soviet Union has only reinforced the notion that the socialist world was little more than an impediment to progress. Nevertheless, the American-led global war on terror has done much to call into question Western commitment to the laws of war.
This conference seeks to explore the role of state-socialist intellectuals, experts and governments in shaping the evolution of ICL and IHL since the end of the Second World War. Actors from Eastern Europe, the USSR, and East Asian and African socialist states actively participated in international debates regarding international legal norms, the meaning of state sovereignty, and in the negotiation of all major ICL and IHL conventions after 1945. In various cases the socialist bloc was often more enthusiastic, and timely, in supporting and ratifying international legal agreements than Western governments, even if these initiatives were inseparable from political agendas. Although they systematically opposed the creation of international tribunals, experts from socialist countries led the way in many areas, such as the codification of crimes against peace and Apartheid or the elimination of statutory limitations for major ICL offences. The socialist world participated also in debates over the international legal status of drug conflicts and revolutionary groups funded by narcotics trafficking. Deliberations on the criminalization of terrorism and the regulation of armed conflicts were closely linked to the politics of “wars of liberation” by socialist forces in Africa, South-East Asia, and Latin America. Socialist legal experts were active participants in transnational epistemic communities and engaged in broader global projects, initiatives, and mobilizations across the Cold War divide.
We encourage proposals on the following topics, and from scholars working on socialist regimes, experts and movements across the world. You are welcome to submit proposals on other themes related to this topic.
The contributions of the socialist countries and experts to debates on the general principles of ICL and IHL (the relationship between municipal and international law; the sources of ICL; the relationship between state sovereignty, ICL and IHL etc.).
Socialist challenges to western liberal humanitarian doctrines and conventions (i.e. Peace proposals as alternative to new Geneva conventions, rejection of equality of nations before the law in cases of aggressive war, etc.)
The role of socialist elites, legal experts, and courts in the development of specific fields of international crimes such as war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and to acts of transnational criminality, such as terrorism, illicit drug trafficking, the arms trade, smuggling of nuclear materials, and trafficking in persons and slavery. The evolution of ICL and IHL discourse, ideas, and initiatives in state-socialist countries.
The role of the Red Cross and other humanitarian NGOs in the socialist world (i.e. North Vietnamese rejection of ICRC protection for US POWs, the creation of local Red Cross organizations in the Eastern Bloc, etc.)
Assessments of the continuing legacies and contributions of state socialist traditions of engagement with ICL and IHL on justice processes after 1989/91.
Abstracts of 300-500 words, together with an accompanying short CV should be submitted to Natalie Taylor (N.H.Taylor@exeter.ac.uk) by 15th June 2016.
The selected participants will be notified by 1st July 2016. They are then expected to submit their papers by 1st November 2016.
Funding opportunities for travel and accommodation are available, but we ask that potential contributors also explore funding opportunities at their home institutions.