UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Transitional justice and transformative possibilities in memory as art Ching, Anson


This thesis explores the role of memory expressed as art in contexts of transitional justice, recognizing that traditional mechanisms are limited in confronting the responsible structures for mass violence. My discussion is located in the larger discussion in transitional justice on moving towards transformative justice as a new agenda of praxis. My contribution maps out how memory as art can function as a mechanism that allows for transformative possibilities since memory as art is about invoking the past in the present in a normative way that demands judgement. By doing so, there is the ability to confront the structures of the past that persist in the present as even though transition is occurring or has already occurred, the sources of mass violence are often just muted or repatterned. In my discussion, I focus on looking at what the arts do to perceivers or secondary witnesses. I suggest that by conveying memory through forms of art, survivors and activists can impart more meaningful understanding, which draws from empathy more than facts, and with understanding, re-imagination and transformative politics becomes possible. Thus, this paper advocates for the use of memory in the form of art as a complimentary and necessary mechanism for achieving the goals of transformative justice. Finally, a concrete example of theory in practice is provided with a discussion of an original participatory art piece titled Now-Then.

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