Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

This article explores the construction of victimhood in transitional societies. Drawn from fieldwork in a dozen jurisdictions as well as elements of criminological, feminist, sociological, philosophical and postcolonial literature, the article focuses in particular on how victimhood is interpreted and acted upon in transitional contexts. It explores the ways in which victims’ voice and agency are realised, impeded or in some cases co-opted in transitional justice. It also examines the role of blame in the construction of victimhood. In particular, it focuses upon the ways in which the importance of blame may render victimhood contingent upon ‘blamelessness’, encourage hierarchies between deserving and undeserving victims and require the reification of blameworthy perpetrators. The article concludes by suggesting that the increased voice and agency associated with the deployment of rights discourses by victims comes at a price – a willingness to acknowledge the rights and humanity of the ‘other’ and to be subject to the same respectful critical inquiry as other social and political actors in a post-conflict society.

More information


Journal article



Publication Date



22 (4)


489 - 513