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VIDI project on Transitional Justice launches with two new PhD candidates

12 January 2023
Barbora Hola's VIDI project on the role that transitional justice plays in intergenerational transmission of legacies of mass atrocities kicks-off at the VU Amsterdam and the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement.

In the 20th century alone, mass atrocities related to genocides, wars or repressive regimes cost over 200 million lives, with hundreds of millions more injured, traumatized, communities fractured, and infrastructure destroyed.  Mass atrocities harm not only individuals, who directly experience violence or loss. Research demonstrates that their legacies are longitudinal, multi-faceted, affecting lives, psyches, attitudes and narratives on individual, family and community level, and can transcend multiple generations. Scholarship on such intergenerational transmission (IGT) however, is scattered across different disciplines and situations of atrocity, with very limited cross-disciplinary exchanges and no systematic, comparative synthesis. This fragmentation fundamentally limits our understanding of what legacies of mass atrocities are, and how they are being transmitted to next generations.

To address legacies of mass atrocities and foster peaceful and prosperous futures, societies have been implementing transitional justice (TJ). Scholarship on TJ, however, remains largely normative and aspirational. Only a very limited number of empirical studies assess what impacts TJ have on the lives of individuals, families, and communities who experienced atrocities. In addition, there is no scholarly exchange whatsoever among these two streams of scholarship (IGT&TJ) despite them both studying how dealing with the past shapes the future. They are, however, intrinsically related - TJ arguably shapes what legacies of mass atrocities are transmitted across generations on an individual, family and community level, and how.

This project aims to close the fundamental gap in our understanding of IGT and TJ. It will conceptualize, operationalize and study their linkages on case studies of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Czechia by asking the following question:

What role does transitional justice (TJ) play in intergenerational transmission of legacies of mass atrocities (IGT)?

Researchers

Dr Barbora Holá, Supervisor and Project Leader

Dr Maartje Weerdesteijn, Supervisor

Dr Gabriele Chlevickaite, Supervisor

Dr Mirza Buljubašić, Post-Doc

Lucie Pěntáková, PhD Candidate

Margareta Blažević, PhD Candidate

Margareta Blažević is one of the two PhD candidates at the NSCR working on the VIDI project on intergenerational legacies of mass atrocities and transitional justice. She will focus on the case study of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Margareta is originally from Croatia but has finished both her Bachelor and Master's studies in the Netherlands. She majored in Psychology during her Bachelor studies in Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (Universiteit van Amsterdam) after which she graduated from the International Crimes, Conflict, and Criminology Master's programme at the Vrije Universiteit. During her studies, most of her research activities focused on the former Yugoslav countries and the aftermath of Yugoslav Wars. Margareta was a researcher at the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo and is currently also working on CICJ’s project on Yugonostalgia.

Lucie Pěntáková is a Ph.D. candidate at NSCR with affiliation to the Criminal Law and Criminology department, Faculty of Law. She holds a Master's in Forensic and Legal Psychology from Erasmus University Rotterdam and a Bachelor's in Psychology from Maastricht University. She also worked as a psychology tutor at Erasmus University Rotterdam from 2021–2022. Together with her colleagues, she is currently working on the VIDI project, which focuses on the intergenerational transmission of legacies of mass atrocities and transitional justice. Specifically, her research focuses on the intergenerational transmission of repression legacies and the role of transitional justice mechanisms in the Czech Republic, where she also happens to come from.