New paper — Using courts to build states: the contested spaces of citizenship in transitional justice programmes

Alex Jeffrey and Michaelina Jakala, (2015) “Using Courts to Build States: The Contested Geographies of Citizenship in Transitional Justice Processes.” Political Geography 47, 43-52.

Michaelina Jakala and myself have a new paper published from the Localising International Law ESRC research project in the journal Political Geography (open access). In this paper we wanted to explore the relationship between law and citizenship after conflict. In particular we were seeking to challenge some of the expectations that have been made — particularly by intervening international agencies — concerning the role of new courts in consolidating citizenship.

The research — conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina over 12 months 2011-2012 — suggested that the geography of citizenship building was not so straightforward. Instead, the establishment of the new Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina required building relationships with local human rights and victims associations. But these organisations often lamented the networked nature of legal processes and were keen to see increased responsibility for judicial process projected back into state institutions.

This argument challenges accounts of citizenship that celebrate the insurgent and active nature of citizenship practices, exploring instead civil society practices as political acts that called upon a nostalgia for a lost state system.

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