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Theatre and Justice: Examples from Afghanistan

Chapter in book
Authors Sari Kouvo
Nadia Siddiqui
Hadi Marifat
Published in in Peter D. Rush and Olivera Simić (Eds.) (2014). The Arts of Transitional Justice. Culture, Activism, and Memory after Atrocity. Springer Series in Transitional Justice, vol 6
Pages 113-134
ISBN 978-1-4614-8384-7
Publisher Springer
Place of publication New York
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Law
Pages 113-134
Language en
Subject categories International law, Jurisprudence


The creation and transfer of cultural history and truths through the arts (including oral, written, visual and performative practices) pre-dates the development of transitional justice as a field. However, the connection between cultural expression and transitional justice is inherent given that a central tenet of transitional justice is to give voice to the victims of trauma and human rights violations. But what of contexts in which transitional justice processes are not forthcoming, conflict is ongoing and cultural practice and transmission of any kind has broken down because of decades of violations? This chapter seeks to examine the role of artists in transitioning contexts where there is still conflict and will focus specifically on the case of Afghanistan where over three decades of conflict have eroded infrastructure, civic trust, and normal cultural production. The chapter will provide specific examples of how arts have been used to deal with themes of conflict and justice in the Afghan context, including the participatory theatre work of the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization (AHRDO), in an effort to shed light on the cultural implications of transitional justice and the role artists and arts practices play in helping shift societies towards human rights and accountability. In Afghanistan we live in the streets of the dead, and we die in the streets of life. Poet, Afghanistan.

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