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About the Project

Funder: Ulster University Global Challenges Research Fund Pump Priming Award

Awarded: £26,239

Duration: 01/04/17 – 31/03/18

Staff Involved: Professor Louise Mallinder, Dr Thomas Hansen, Professor Siobhan Wills


This pump-priming project explores the intersections between economic liberalism, democracy, and transitional justice. The team felt that the time was ripe for these conversations for two main reasons. Firstly, although transitional justice is firmly established as a core component of efforts to overcome violence and fragility, it remains under theorized in relation to interrogating the forms of democracy that should be pursued in the transitional period and addressing the socio-economic harms that may be causes or consequences of conflict and repression.

Secondly, interdisciplinary academic literature has recognized for several years that many political transitions stall or face reversals. In recent years, there has been growing awareness that even in some consolidated democracies, the quality of democracy is eroding. In response to these challenges, democratization scholars increasingly emphasize the need to build legitimate governance through inclusive participation and there is growing scrutiny of the risks posed to democratization by economic policies that increase inequality and may enable elites to capture economic and political institutions. However, transitional justice has been slow to incorporate such insights from other fields, and there has been very limited empirical research on how economic conditions, interests, and ideologies can shape transitional states’ efforts to address past injustices and build stable and legitimate governments.

This pump-priming project is intended to lay the groundwork for a larger interdisciplinary research project. To further this objective, the project hosted a workshop in January 2018 that brought together scholars from law, economics, political science, sociology, and peace studies, as well as practitioners from international organizations and the case study contexts of Chile, Cambodia, Haiti, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.