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Performances of Injustice
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Book description

Following unprecedented violence in 2007/8, Kenya introduced two classic transitional justice mechanisms: a truth commission and international criminal proceedings. Both are widely believed to have failed, but why? And what do their performances say about contemporary Kenya; the ways in which violent pasts persist; and the shortcomings of transitional justice? Using the lens of performance, this book analyses how transitional justice efforts are incapable of dealing with how unjust and violent pasts actually persist. Gabrielle Lynch reveals the story of an ongoing political struggle requiring substantive socio-economic and political change that transitional justice mechanisms can theoretically recommend, and which they can sometimes help to initiate and inform, but which they cannot implement or create, and can sometimes unintentionally help to reinforce.


‘Performances of Injustice: The Politics of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Kenya is a rich and highly detailed analysis of mechanisms introduced to address the causes of political violence in Kenya. It is a provocative and incisive analysis of causes of violence and the challenges and measures to transit Kenya to a democratic destination. It is an indispensable read for understanding the Kenya of yesterday and today.’

Karuti Kanyinga - Institute for Development Studies (IDS), University of Nairobi

‘In this important book, Gabrielle Lynch critiques Kenya’s handling of its process of transitional justice after the 2007/8 election. She argues that transitional justice depends upon the successful performances of justice but that it is far from clear that there has been a meaningful break with past injustice as a result of Kenya’s truth, justice and reconciliation efforts. Based on meticulous fieldwork, this is a study with relevance across disciplines, including political science, history and law.’

Ambreena Manji - Cardiff University

‘In recent decades, inspired by the fleeting glimmer of Apartheid 'reconciliation' and the potential hammer of an International Criminal Court with global jurisdiction for big-time killers, scholars, policy-makers and activists have embraced a vision of 'transitional justice', which, if not making past wrongs right at least lets them fade from memory into history. Analysing the responses to the post-2007 election violence in Kenya, Performances of Injustice shows how the favoured twin technologies of transitional justice - the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the International Criminal Court - can be deployed by cynical potentates to thwart real justice, while at the same time showing how important the promise of justice embodied in these institutions is in this world, and how fragile its performance can be.’

Adam Ashforth - University of Michigan

‘Gabrielle Lynch provides a piercing and informative analysis based upon her years of fieldwork in Kenya. Drawing upon her personal experiences and insights, including her ability to speak with a wide range of Kenyans, Lynch provides one of the most readable and useful treatments of recent efforts to combat impunity in Kenya that I have come across. She provides useful and critical insights for those interested in increasing international justice, and does so in a highly readable and accessible format. Anyone interested in Kenya, the ICC, transitional justice, and international justice more generally, will benefit from reading this book.’

Ron Slye - University of Seattle

‘Performances of injustice is an important book that highlights the limitations of transitional justice. But it does more than that: Lynch provides insight into the specific dynamics of Kenyan politics and the role of impunity in maintaining a highly unequal system of democratic rule, with the possibility of widespread violence lingering very close to the surface. Therefore, this book is a must for those interested in transitional justice, as well as for those interested in Kenyan politics.’

Jelke Boesten Source: Commonwealth and Comparative Politics

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