Working at the frontiers of political science, philosophy, history, law, literature and cinema, this interdisciplinary project led by Mihaela Mihai has both critical and institutional impact. Critically, it discloses the limits of current Transitional Justice theory and practice by emphasising the negative political effects of ignoring general complicity in violence. Institutionally, it seeks to enrich the toolkit of scholars and practitioners by highlighting the potential use of cinema and literature in civic education aimed at deterrence and reconciliation.
The grey zone of bystanders, collaborators and beneficiaries of violence escapes the scope of main Transitional Justice institutions and poses tough questions for scholars and architects of post-conflict societies.
This interdisciplinary project shifts the focus of academic and political debates by pursuing three main objectives: Conceptually, it departs from the dominant victim-perpetrator paradigm and theorises the many faces in the grey zone by analysing the interplay between structure and agency. Normatively, it argues that no account of Transitional Justice is complete without engaging the grey zone. Empirically, it tests if, in tackling the grey zone, cinematographic and literary representations can supplement typical Transitional Justice mechanisms (trials, truth commissions, lustration).
We will be analysing four cases within the project, which provide a variety of contexts of complicity and feature the most frequently used Transitional Justice mechanisms. These will include authoritarianism plus military occupation in Vichy France, apartheid in South Africa, totalitarianism in Romania (1945–1989) and military dictatorship in Argentina (1976–1983).
These cases serve to examine the relationship between the official story emerging from state-orchestrated Transitional Justice mechanisms and artistic narratives of complicity. They also contextually distinguish disclosive from obscuring artistic representations of the grey zone. Finally, they explore the contribution of these representations to Transitional Justice efforts by studying their effect on public debates about, and institutional responses to, the past.