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Mobilising diasporas for justice. Opportunity structures and the presencing of a violent past

Journal article
Authors Camilla Orjuela
Published in Journal of ethnic and migration studies
ISSN 1369-183X
Publication year 2017
Published at School of Global Studies, Peace and Development Research
Language en
Links www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.108...
Keywords diaspora mobilisation, transitional justice, opportunity structures, past presencing, Rwanda, Sri Lanka
Subject categories Law and Society, Globalization Studies, Peace and development research, Peace and conflict research, International Migration and Ethnic Relations

Abstract

This article investigates how the global dominance of the transitional justice (TJ) discourse and practice – and the controversies and conflicts that arise around TJ – have come to make up an important context for diaspora mobilisation. The article looks at the increasingly globalised mechanisms and norms of transitional justice as a set of opportunity structures – political, legal and discursive – which shape diaspora mobilisation. Diaspora engagement in commemoration, truth-seeking and legal justice in relation to atrocities in Rwanda and Sri Lanka is studied. The article shows that in relation to Rwanda, state dominance and divides are largely replicated in the diasporic space, while the Sri Lankan case provides examples of how Tamil diaspora engagement have been able to reverse power dynamics around TJ. Combining opportunity structures with the concept of ‘past presencing’, the article shows how diaspora groups appropriate and strategise in relation to the dominant norms and practices of TJ, and how in doing so the past is performed and experienced in ways which are both personally and politically meaningful.

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