Socialising Negative Emotions: Transitional Criminal Trials in the Service of Democracy"

Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 31 (1):111–131 (2011)
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This paper seeks to contribute to the field of transitional justice by adding new insights about the role that trials of victimizers can play within democratization processes. The main argument is that criminal proceedings affirming the value of equal respect and concern for both victims and abusers can contribute to the socialization of citizens’ politically relevant emotions. More precisely, using law constructively to engage public resentment and indignation can be successful to the extent that legality is not sacrificed. In order to locate this argument within the rich literature on the pedagogical functions of transitional trials this paper enters a dialogue with three emblematic texts. Lawrence Douglas’s narrative jurisprudence approach, Judith Shklar’s critique of the limits of legalism, and Marc Osiel’s interest in ‘discursive solidarity’ represent starting points for a more complex conceptualization of the relationship between democracy, law and emotional education within transformational periods



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