The 'silent dilemma' of transitional justice: silencing and coming to terms with the past in Serbia

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Abstract

This article explores the intersections of silence and transitional justice in Serbia, where, it is often suggested, the general public is silent and indifferent about human rights abuses that took place during the former Yugoslav conflicts. It considers both the 'silent' public and the ways in which transitional justice may be complicit in silencing it. Based on scholarship that suggests silences are not absences but rather sites of silent knowledge or a result of silencing, the article explores some of the dynamics hidden within the public's silence: shared knowledge, secret practices and inability to discuss violence. It also considers the ways in which audiences subvert and resist organized transitional justice initiatives or are caught up in a 'silent dilemma' in which they are unable to speak about the past under the discursive conditions created by transitional justice practitioners.

LanguageEnglish
Pages328-347
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Transitional Justice
Volume7
Issue number2
Early online date16 May 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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coming to terms with the past
Serbia
justice
human rights
abuse
violence

Bibliographical note

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in International journal of transitional justice following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Obradovic-Wochnik, J. (2013). 'Silent Dilemma' of transitional justice: silencing and coming to terms with the past in Serbia. International journal of transitional justice, 7(2), 328-347 is available online at: http://ijtj.oxfordjournals.org/content/7/2/328

Funding: Research for this article was initially funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Keywords

  • accountability
  • former Yugoslavia
  • memory
  • Serbia
  • silence
  • voice

Cite this

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abstract = "This article explores the intersections of silence and transitional justice in Serbia, where, it is often suggested, the general public is silent and indifferent about human rights abuses that took place during the former Yugoslav conflicts. It considers both the 'silent' public and the ways in which transitional justice may be complicit in silencing it. Based on scholarship that suggests silences are not absences but rather sites of silent knowledge or a result of silencing, the article explores some of the dynamics hidden within the public's silence: shared knowledge, secret practices and inability to discuss violence. It also considers the ways in which audiences subvert and resist organized transitional justice initiatives or are caught up in a 'silent dilemma' in which they are unable to speak about the past under the discursive conditions created by transitional justice practitioners.",
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