As a part of the NIOD-fellowship programme researcher Samantha Lakin started her fellowship at the NIOD. For the next months she is working on Transitional Justice in Rwanda.
At NIOD, Samantha will focus on her dissertation project, which examines local perspectives of memory and justice in the aftermath of genocide and mass atrocities, using Rwanda as the primary case study. Samantha's preliminary research and existing literature suggest that symbolic forms of justice can have a positive impact on people who, via different memory practices, seek redress and healing outside of legal channels. Yet, very little research has explored this complicated process. This study will contribute to it in two ways. First, it will provide insight into how genocide survivors, former perpetrators, ordinary citizens, and state officials understand and utilize symbolic justice to achieve their respective goals. Second, the focus on memorialization, commemoration, and personal memory practices will illustrate how efforts to realize justice through symbolic means can inform existing theories of transitional justice more broadly. After conducting 40 open-ended interviews in Rwanda, reviewing archival documents (speeches, written testimonies, etc.), and engaging in direct observation of commemorative and memorial practices, Samantha's project uses these methods and sources to examine how genocide survivors, former perpetrators, ordinary citizens, and state entities variously respond to memorial mechanisms. Documenting differences within and between these groups will create a new understanding of the multiple, competing, and coinciding perspectives involved in post-conflict recovery, and more broadly, human resilience after conflict.