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Repairing the Irreparable: How Spirits Re-Shape the Field of Transitional Justice

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Empirical studies that evaluate reparations programs from the perspective of survivors have received little attention in the literature. In contexts where the state has formally acknowledged the survivors of mass atrocities and has developed and established a reparations program to ‘repair’ the damage caused, the spirits that dwell in the socio-cultural realm express dissatisfaction with state institutions’ proposed solutions to the damage caused. Through a comparative literature analysis of the socio-cultural understandings of reparations among the Mayan Q’eqchi’ in Guatemala and the Acholi in northern Uganda, I suggest that forms of agency in the realm of the everyday which involves dreams, spirits and multiple temporalities, derived from cosmologies alternative to the Western norm, are essential to understanding how members of communities live side-by-side in post-conflict settings, and therefore, I argue that these efforts need to occupy a central space in the transitional justice agenda.
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