Eva Willems

Biography and/or project

I am a doctoral researcher at the History department of Ghent University. My current research is on history,memory and transitional justice in post-conflict Peru (1980-present).

All over the world a wide range of strategies or ‘transitional justice mechanisms’ are being developed to deal with historical injustice and legacies of conflict. Despite the fact that ‘transitional justice’ has become a major field of policy-making and academic study which attracts substantial resources and has an enormous political impact, the soundness of its basic presuppositions and its actual effects have received very little scholarly attention. With few exceptions, little is known about the dialectics between transitional justice and specific (non-western) cultural frameworks. Despite the fact that the great majority of the existing transitional justice ‘experiments’ have taken place in non-western, and mostly developing, contexts, transitional justice seems to be based on an often thoroughly abstract set of western cultural, social, psychological and political premises. Therefore there is a growing need to relate transitional justice discourse and practice to the local cultural contexts in which they take place.
In my project, I want to address this problem by offering a culturally-sensitive meta-historical analysis of the dissemination, implementation and (local) reception of transitional justice discourse and practice in post-conflict Peru (1980-present). I will do this by combining methods of ethnographical fieldwork (such as oral history and participant observation), discourse-analysis and literature study. This project is part of a larger comparatively oriented research project about transitional justice discourse and practice in Latin America, which will also include case-studies about Guatemala and Brazil.