New Special Issue of „Global Society”

The Special Issue on “Justice, Memory and Transnational Networks. European and South American Entanglements” is now out in Global Society. Introduction by Raluca Grosescu, Sophie Baby and Laure Neumayer and contributions by Gruia Badescu, Daniel Kressel, Caroline Moine, Tobias Rupprecht, David Copello, Emilio Krezel and Raluca Grosescu

International Conference “Transnational Dimensions of Dealing with the Past in ‘Third Wave’ Democracies”

Transnational Dimensions of Dealing with the Past in ‘Third Wave’ Democracies.
Central Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union in Global Perspective

1-2 April 2019

Faculty of History, University of Bucharest (Bd. Regina Elisabeta 4-12, Sala de Consiliu)

This conference examines the transnational dimensions of dealing with the past in post-1989 Central Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. It focuses on transnational activism, transfers of knowledge and expertise at bilateral, regional or international levels, and the role of international organizations and NGOs in reckoning with mass violence. The conference explores the circulation of ideas within these regions, as well the way memorialization practices in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union were shaped by and influenced in turn criminalization discourses in other geographical contexts (Latin America, Asia, Africa).

Read the full program here.

Building Bridges: Linking Memories of Past Dictatorships in Europe through Museums and Memorial Sites

International conference, Faculty of Political Science, University of Bucharest, 3-5 December 2018.

Conveners: Gruia Badescu, Nelly Bekus, Raluca Grosescu

This conference brings together museum practitioners and academics working in the field of dealing with the past in order to discuss the transnational circulation of ideas, cooperation and tensions between memorialization processes of right wing and left wing dictatorships in Europe. The conference aims to enhance collaboration between academics and practitioners and create dialogue between institutions whose activities are often confined to national borders. The event is organized by our team at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Bucharest, in collaboration with Exeter University (UK). This conference is supported by the AHRC “Care for the Future” (UK) and Labex “Les Passés dans Le Présent” (FR) joint funded project The Criminalization of Dictatorial Pasts in Europe and Latin America in Global Perspective.

See the full program here.

Criminalising Violent Pasts: Multiple Roots and Forgotten Pathways, 1950s-2010s

London, South Bank University, 15-16 November 2018.

The conference seeks to explore the history of the (often forgotten) pathways and contested visions through which violent pasts have been criminalized in modern societies. Taking as its starting point the moment of an acceleration of decolonisation, globalisation and de-Stalinisation in the 1950s, the contributions explore the variety of actors, activisms and political projects that lay behind the global expansion of such ideas. The conference integrates stories of dealing with the past into broader frameworks supplied, for example, by histories of globalization, neoliberalism or postcolonialism.

Read the conference program here.

Call For Papers International Conference: Criminalising Violent Pasts: Multiple Roots and Forgotten Pathways 1950s-2010s (London South Bank University, 15-16 November 2018)

Over the last half century, discourses and practices connected to the idea that violent or dictatorial pasts should be marked as criminal have proliferated. A variety of actors – from victims groups to social movements, to expert groups such as lawyers, museums specialists and even economists – have contributed to the emergence and circulation of the notion that political violence could only be overcome through its criminalization in courts, lustration procedures, history writing, activism or memorial sites. Produced across different fields of action and expertise, this assumption has become dominant in the political and judicial sphere at a global level and has permeated many political cultures and everyday life practices.  Even where decriminalisation (amnesties, pardons, closure of archives) prevailed, debates worked within the set of assumptions about the past established through this globally expanding paradigm.

Despite its dominance, we still lack a truly international history of its roots. This is in part because modern day practices of criminalisation often play down their own historicity. Coming of age at the so-called ‘end of history’, their promoters came to see their application as a natural end point in the achievement of human rights, democracy or good governance.  When histories are offered, they too often provide a rather linear narrative that links these developments to – mainly Western – political processes established to address the legacies of Nazism after World War Two. Such accounts have also commonly resisted incorporation into broader frameworks supplied, for example, by histories of globalization, neoliberalism or postcolonialism.  Only recently have a few authors sought to make sense of the emergence of the modern criminalisation paradigm in new ways, connecting it, for example, to the rise of the homo economicus and a concomitant individualistic approach to human rights.

This conference seeks to explore the history of the (often forgotten) pathways and contested visions through which the criminalization paradigm developed. This conference welcomes contributions that explore the emergence of multiple, potentially competitive visions of criminal pasts. Taking as its starting point the moment of an acceleration of decolonisation, globalisation and de-Stalinisation in the 1950s, we encourage papers that explore the variety of actors, activisms and political projects that lay behind the global expansion of such ideas. Human rights organisations, international legal associations, post-colonial and Communist states, all variously developed the idea of overcoming criminal pasts as they sought, to legitimate new political projects, reconceptualise the relationship between the individual and the state, or seek collective or socio-economic justice for past wrongs. We welcome papers that, for example, address the complexity and interplay of these ideas in different arenas and seek to connect these phenomena to wider literatures. We are also wary of easy teleologies, and are as interested in the histories of the marginalization of some visions, as in the growing dominance of others.

Papers might address the following topics:

Historicisation. How did processes of criminalisation/decriminalisation of fascism, authoritarianism, colonialism, communism, and other violent historical episodes evolve over time? What were their political/ideological roots and consequences, and how did they influence each other? Which particular paradigms of criminalisation were internationalised or globalised from the 1950s? What turning points can we identify in the shift of these paradigms at international and regional levels (e.g. decolonisation in the 1960s, the end of Cold War)?

Rethinking Paradigms. Are there new historical frameworks into which the history of criminalising violent pasts could be written? The history of neoliberalism? Or postcolonialism? Should it bring together traditions of scholarship, which have often remained separate? (e.g. postcolonialism and communism; histories of the ‘semi-periphery’ with those from ‘the West’).

Rethinking ‘Third Wave Criminalisation’ (1980s-). How might these multiple histories help us understand the values and practices of ‘third wave criminalisation’ in new ways?  Which groups and alliances helped produce this? Were alternative visions of historical culpability marginalised, or did they survive? Does such a historicisation enable us more fully to appreciate the variety of visions and practices that constitute this recent criminalisation paradigm?

Rethinking Actors. How did states, social movements, peace keepers, or experts produce ideas about what should be criminalised and in which ways? How did actors generally unrecognised – such as socialist and other authoritarian states, or professional groups such as economists –produce and globalise new paradigms? Do we over-privilege the role of western actors in this account? How do relevant actors change over time? (e.g. from states to non-state actors including private individuals and companies)?

Rethinking Chronologies. How did the meanings, relevance and objects of criminalisation shift over time? How were specific crimes selected as subject to criminalisation at particular moments, which were sidelined, and why? How are the processes of criminalisation linked to processes of politicization or de-politicisation of past conflicts and violence? Was there a move from collective/ systemic criminalisation to one based around the idea of individual crime and responsibility?

Abstracts of 300-500 words, together with an accompanying short CV should be submitted to  by 31 May 2018. The selected participants will be notified by the end of June 2018. Financial support for travel and accommodation is available, but we ask that contributors also explore funding opportunities at their home institutions.

This conference is supported by the AHRC “Care for the Future” (UK) and Labex “Les Passés dans Le Présent” (FR) joint funded project The Criminalization of Dictatorial Pasts in Europe and Latin America in Global Perspective.

Organisers: Sophie Baby, University of Bourgogne Franche-Comté; Raluca Grosescu, University of Exeter; James Mark, University of Exeter; Laure Neumayer, University of Paris 1, Phathéon-Sorbonne; Federica Rossi, London South Bank University; Frédéric Zalewski, University of Paris Ouest Nanterre.

Historicising Justice and Memory Regimes After 1945, 18-19 January 2018, Exeter University

This workshop aims to identify different justice and memory regimes after 1945 with their ideological underpinnings and impact on current developments. It also aims to connect processes and narratives that have emerged after WWII, during decolonization, and during the “third wave” of democratization in Europe and Latin America.

General Discussions: Sophie Baby, Gruia Badescu, Nelly Bekus, Valentin Behr, Muriel Blaive, Raluca Grosescu, James Mark, Federica Rossi, Tobias Rupprecht, Federic Zalewski, Mate Zombory.

Individual Presentations:

Mate Zombory, “The legacies of criminalizing fascism for decolonization and ‘third wave’ justice and memory processes”

James Mark, “The role of the socialist bloc in criminalizing apartheid”

Valentin Behr, “Turning points in criminalizing communism in Poland: 1970s – 2015”

Raluca Grosescu, “Corporate accountability for human rights violations in historical perspective”

New Article by team member Raluca Grosescu “Judging communist crimes in Romania. Transnational and Global Influences”, International Journal of Transitional Justice 11 (3) (2017): 505-524

In 2016, over 25 years after the fall of the communist regime, the Romanian Supreme Court of Justice convicted for the first time two former military officials for political crimes perpetrated in the 1950s, the harshest repressive period of the previous dictatorship. The verdicts marked a radical break with the prior legal approaches to prosecuting communist crimes in this country inasmuch as international criminal law (ICL) was now employed in order to overcome impunity. This article shows how the current shifts in Romanian jurisprudence have been built upon, and have drawn inspiration from, a recent global convergence towards the use of ICL for addressing the crimes of dictatorial regimes and the obstacles to their prosecution, such as amnesties or statutory limitations. It emphasizes the importance of noncoercive exogenous influences in enabling changes in the Romanian process of dealing with the past.

New article by team member Laure Neumayer: “Advocating for the cause of the ‘victims of Communism” in the European political space: memory entrepreneurs in interstitial fields”, Nationalities Papers, 45 (6) 2017

The European Parliament (EP) adopted, between 2004 and 2009, a series of resolutions calling for recognition of Communist crimes and commemoration of their victims. This article focuses on an overlooked aspect of anti-Communist activism, the awareness-raising activities carried out by some Central European Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to perpetuate the cause through networks that enable them to exchange institutional credibility, scientific legitimacy, and policy-oriented knowledge with Institutes of National Memory, parts of academia, and victims associations. Although they use the techniques of expertise and scandalization that are often effective in European institutions, these memory entrepreneurs have largely failed to further their claims in the European Union (EU) after 2009. In line with the turn toward “practice” in EU studies and the increased attention paid to agency in memory politics, this article contends that the conditions of production of their narrative of indictment of Communism accounts for this relative lack of success. Because their demands produced a strong polarization inside the EP while colliding with established Western patterns of remembrance, these MEPs’ reach remains limited to their Conservative peers from the former Eastern bloc. This weak national and ideological representativeness hinders their capacity to impose their vision of the socialist period in the European political space.

New Article by team member Mate Zombory: “The birth of the memory of Communism: memorial museums in Europe”, Nationalities Papers, 45 (6) 2017.

This article argues that the memory of Communism emerged in Europe not due to the public recognition of pre-given historical experiences of peoples previously under Communist regimes, but to the particularities of the post-Cold War transnational political context. As a reaction to the uniqueness claim of the Holocaust in the power field structured by the European enlargement process, Communism memory was reclaimed according to the European normative and value system prescribed by the memory of the Holocaust. Since in the political context of European enlargement refusing to cultivate the memory of the Holocaust was highly illegitimate, the memory of Communism was born as the “twin brother” of Holocaust memory. The Europeanized memory of Communism produced a legitimate differentia specifica of the newcomers in relation to old member states. It has been publicly reclaimed as an Eastern European experience in relation to universal Holocaust memory perceived as Western. By the analysis of memorial museums of Communism, the article provides a transnational, historical, and sociological account on Communism memory. It argues that the main elements of the discursive repertoire applied in post-accession political debates about the definition of Europe were elaborated before 2004 in a pan-European way.

Travelling Jurisprudence: the Circulation of Legal Reasoning on International Crimes between Europe and Latin America (Workshop, Oxford, 27 November 2017)

Combining Pierre Bourdieu’s theory on the social conditions of the international circulation of ideas and William Twining’s framework of examining processes of small-scale legal diffusion, we focus on the socio-political conditions in which circulation of legal paradigms between Europe and Latin America occurred, the way they impacted on its adaptation to the local reality, as well as on the personal biographies, and the political and professionals purposes of the actors producing these transfers.

Click here for more information.