Working towards justice through documenting wrong: Civil society organisations and documentation practices in transitional justice

Archival work and documentation practices are at the heart of the functioning of transitional justice processes. Transitional justice procedures build upon archival holdings and records from various sources. How information about human rights abuses is collected and handled affects the procedures throughout. It determines their development, the claims and judgements made, as well as the procedures’ long-term effects. How transitional justice procedures collect and process information has been studied very little so far.

Throughout the world, civil society organisations systematically document human rights abuses and preserve archival holdings that contain such information. These records and archives they create are a vital impulse and source to transitional justice procedures. Yet, little is known about how civil society organisations and their practices affect transitional justice. Hence, my thesis addresses the question: What role do civil society organisations that engage in practices of documenting and preserving information about human rights abuses play in transitional justice processes?

The proposed case study will investigate how information is processed in the Colombian transitional justice process, focusing on the role civil society organisations and their practices play in this process. The research strategy is informed by multi-sited ethnography and will rest on participant observation, expert interviews, and the analysis of policy documents. The objectives are to analyse the policies and guidelines, to participate in archival practice and decision-making processes, and to interview the actors involved on their perception of the practices they engage in. With my thesis, I seek to contribute knowledge of understanding the relationship between human rights advocacy work and transitional justice.

Supervisor: Laurent Goetschel
Co-Supervisor: Julia Eckert (University of Bern), Rita Kesselring

Bio

- 2016 MA in Sociology and Social Anthropology; University of Basel
- 2011 BA in Sociology, Political Science and Philosophy; University of Zurich
- 2018 – 2019 Research Assistant in the Horizon 2020 project IMAJINE “Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe”  of  Dr. Edina Szὄcsik (Grant Recipient), Department of Political Science, University of Basel
- 2017 – 2018 Start-up scholar Graduate School of Social Sciences G3S, University of Basel
- 2016 – 2017 Research Assistant in the SNSF-funded project „Massengewalt im Gebiet der Großen Seen. Über den Zusammenhang von kollektiver Gewalt und paramilitärischen Organisationsstrukturen am Beispiel ugandischer und kongolesischer bewaffneter Gruppen“ of Prof. Dr. Axel Paul, Department of Sociology, University of Basel
- 2011 – 2012 Graduate Intern in the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Political Division IV Human Security, Task Force for Dealing with the Past and the Prevention of Atrocities

Rahel Siegrist holds an MA in Sociology and Social Anthropology of the University of Basel. In 2017, she received a Start-up Scholarship of the Graduate School of Social Sciences. As start-up scholar she conceptualized a research project on so-called ‘Archives of Dealing with the Past’ in cooperation with swisspeace, supervised by Prof. Dr. Laurent Goetschel (University of Basel), Prof. Dr. Julia Eckert (University of Bern) and Dr. Rita Kesselring (University of Basel). The research project she developed on the basis of her engagement as Graduate Intern in the Task Force for Dealing with the Past and the Prevention of Atrocities in the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) 2011–2012. The project proposal was submitted to the Doc.CH career-funding programme of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Since August 2018, Rahel Siegrist works as Research Assistant in the Horizon 2020 project IMAJINE “Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe” of Dr. Edina Szὄcsik (Grant Recipient) at the Department of Political Science, University of Basel.

rahel siegrist

Rahel Siegrist
Fachbereich Politikwissenschaft
Bernoullistrasse 14/16
4056 Basel
Schweiz