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Title: Confronting the past: transitional justice policies after violence
Authors: Voytas, Elsa
Advisors: Shapiro, Jacob
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: human rights
political behavior
transitional justice
Subjects: Political science
International relations
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: How can transitional justice policies help societies recover and rebuild after violence? Transitional justice, or policies implemented by governments to address histories of conflict and recognize victims, are commonly implemented in post-violence societies. While existing work has explored the connection between transitional justice and societal outcomes such as the strength of democracy, our understanding of transitional justice's micro-level effects remains limited. I therefore turn to those participating in transitional justice and examine how the experience shapes their political attitudes and behaviors. I predict that transitional justice policies can build trust in the political system and increase institutional participation, but whether they do so depends on an individual's policy experience. For victims and their relatives, the transitional justice experience serves as an opportunity to observe whether the state is responsive to their concerns and whether engaging with it is efficacious. For broader populations participating in transitional justice, the experience also shapes the way they see the government and political institutions. I test my theory and alternative explanations with multi-method analyses of the policies of trials, reparations, and museums in post-dictatorship Chile. I find that victims' relatives see trials' procedural delays and lenient sentences as unfair, lowering their confidence in the state. This distrust manifests differently, activating those with strong victim identities and demobilizing those without. Among surviving victims receiving material compensation, I find that voter registration increases significantly. Recipients value the noneconomic component of reparations and the reliable and consistent way that compensation is distributed. These results suggest that a relatively small monthly payment administered in a fair way can reincorporate victims who have extreme distrust toward the state. Finally, the results of our field experiment suggest that visitors can leave transitional justice museums with increased support for democracy and restorative transitional justice policies. We find evidence that the museums' symbolic emotional appeals generate these attitudinal shifts. Together, these results suggest that transitional justice policies are imbued with meaning and information that can structure political behavior. From a policy standpoint, they emphasize that fairness of procedures and outcomes is critical if the goal is to spur democratic support and engagement.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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