Date of Award

5-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Anthropology

Major Professor

Tricia M. Redeker-Hepner

Committee Members

Rebecca M. Klenk, Bertin M. Louis, Michael J. Palenchar, Raja H. Swamy

Abstract

In this dissertation, I argue for an approach to transitional justice that analyzes the diverse and dynamic ways in which people experience armed conflict and its aftermath. I question what actually changes during a state’s “transitional period” and illuminate how transitional justice is utilized, politicized, and manipulated by powerful actors. Throughout this dissertation, I examine the varied experiences of people who endured gross violations of human rights as children, according to international law, and who are now, within that legal framework, adults. I follow the lives of victims of Nepal’s armed conflict as they transition out of what is recognized in international law as a temporary phase known as “childhood” and explore what they recognize as constant and temporal in their own lives as the Nepali state undergoes its own transition, also argued to be a temporary phase, transitional justice. I inquire how diverse identities and patterned inequality are reconstituted through processes of transitional justice and contend the façade of the inclusion serves as a distraction from claims for equitable access to power and resources. A key argument of this dissertation is that the performance of transitional justice in Nepal, including the performance of redressing human rights violations experienced by victims and addressing the needs of the most vulnerable victims (e.g. children), functions to conceal international complicity in as well as the state’s commitment to maintaining structural inequality. Following ten years of armed conflict to ameliorate historically sedimented inequity, state-led transitional justice mechanisms have served to entrench the exclusion of economically, politically, and socially marginalized groups and ensure Nepalis’ continued distrust in the national government. Thus, while addressing structural inequality may be beyond the reach of normative transitional justice mechanisms, the Nepali context demonstrates how processes of transitional justice cannot redress conflict-era gross violations of human rights without redressing inequitable systems of power.

Comments

Portions of this document were published in Billingsley, Krista. 2018. Intersectionality as Locality: Children and Transitional Justice In Nepal. International Journal of Transitional Justice 12(1):64-87.

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