Anika Oettler

Transitional Justice, Recognition, and Authoritative Power

GIGA Working Paper, No. 305, August 2017

The legitimacy of transitional justice currently derives from the contribution it makes to the recognition of victims. Adding the aspect of authoritative power to ongoing debates on transitional justice, however, could significantly alter our views on recognition. Recognition is widely believed to be key to overcoming traumatic experiences. At the same time, however, it strengthens authoritative power. Seeking a more nuanced understanding of the recognition–power nexus, the paper provides a rough and critical account of various understandings of recognition and power on the part of authors such as Honneth, Fraser, Bertram and Celikates, Ikäheimo, Arendt, Foucault, Popitz, and Bourdieu. It then examines how these theoretical approaches intersect and speak to each other. To see recognition as a reciprocal interaction sensitive to power relations is to pave the way for a power‐sensitive turn in current debates on victim‐centred transitional justice. Multidirectional relationships of power exist, with varying forms of coercion, resistance, and struggle. This insight corresponds with the observation, seen from the other perspective, that truth and recognition are inside power. Placing theoretical approaches to power and recognition side by side has strong implications for politics. The paper therefore applies these theoretical insights to the Colombian peace process, showing the potential and pitfalls of putting recognition into practice.

Related Research at the GIGA

Related Research Tabs

GIGA Authors

Prof. Dr. Anika Oettler is a professor of sociology at Philipps‐Universität Marburg and an associate researcher at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA). She has published extensively on transitional justice, historical memory, and violence.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Peter Peetz / Sebastian Huhn / Anika Oettler

Zentralamerika: Zum schwankenden Nachrichtenwert von Kriminalität in einer heterogenen Printmedienlandschaft

in: Hanno Bruchmann / Anna Dobelmann / Annika Hartmann / Aylin Kruse / Manuel Schulz / Sarah Helen Sott (eds.), Medien und Demokratie in Lateinamerika, Berlin: Karl Dietz Verlag, 2012, 200-220

Anika Oettler

The Central American Fear of Youth

Journal of International Conflict and Violence, 5, 2011, 2, 261-276

Sebastian Huhn / Anika Oettler / Peter Peetz

Jugendbanden in Zentralamerika – Zur sozialen Konstruktion einer teuflischen Tätergruppe

in: Peter Imbusch (ed.), Jugendliche als Täter und Opfer von Gewalt, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2010, 213-242

Anika Oettler / Peter Peetz

Putsch in Honduras: Störfall in der defekten Demokratie

Internationale Politik und Gesellschaft, 2010, 1, 82-95