Spirits and social reconstruction after mass violence: Rethinking transitional justice

  • Baines E
  • 69


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 34


    Citations of this article.


A vibrant debate in the field of transitional justice concerns the relative ability of global, national, and local mechanisms to promote justice after violent conflict. Discussion largely focuses on more formal mechanisms of justice (courts, tribunals, or truth commissions), implying that state institutions and the law are solely responsible for shaping the process of social healing. This article suggests that scholars should take seriously more informal, socio-cultural processes outside the purview of the state, particularly for how they promote social reconstruction at the micro level. Examining the phenomena of spirit possession and ritual cleansing in northern Uganda, I illustrate how such efforts are expressions of injustice and reflect ordinary people’s attempts to seek moral renewal and social repair. This approach is particularly illustrative in cases where ‘intimate enemies’ exist - that is, settings where ordinary people who engaged in violence against one another must live together again.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Erin Baines

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free