Dr Gabrielle Lynch – book launch of Performances of Injustices: The Politics of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Kenya (Cambridge University Press)

  • Date:
  • Time: 16:00
  • Location: Baines Wing SR 1.15
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Following unprecedented violence in 2007/8, Kenya introduced two classic transitional justice mechanisms: a truth commission and international criminal proceedings. Both are widely believed to have failed, but why? And what do their performances say about contemporary Kenya; the ways in which violent pasts persist; and the shortcomings of transitional justice? Using the lens of performance, this talk (which draws upon a recent Cambridge University Press book) analyses how transitional justice efforts are incapable of dealing with the ways in which unjust and violent pasts actually persist; how they can reinforce, or enact further, injustice; and how they can go hand-in-hand with the politicisation of reconciliation as unity behind elected leaders. The paper argues that justice should be regarded as an ongoing political struggle that requires substantive socio-economic and political change that transitional justice mechanisms can theoretically recommend, and which they can sometimes help to initiate and inform, but which they cannot implement or create, and can sometimes unintentionally help to reinforce.


Gabrielle Lynch is Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Warwick, UK. She is the author of I Say to You: Ethnic Politics and the Kalenjin of Kenya (University of Chicago Press, 2011), Performances of Injustice: The Politics of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Kenya (Cambridge University Press, 2018), and over thirty articles and book chapters. Gabrielle co-edited Democratization in Africa: Challenges and Prospects (2012), and special issues of Democratization (2011), and of the Journal of Eastern African Studies (2014; 2019), and is a member of the Review of African Political Economy editorial working group.