Dr Natascha Mueller-Hirth has been awarded a grant by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland – her research is entitled “From transition to transformation? A victim-centred study of women’s demands for sustainable peace”. Natascha, who works in the School of Applied Social Science will work on this project until August 2017, including three weeks of fieldwork in Kenya.
Most armed conflicts feature both direct and structural violence and occur in countries that face severe challenges of poverty and inequality. However, transitional justice – the dominant approach to dealing with legacies of violent pasts – has historically excluded structural concerns such as socio-economic inequalities and gender justice. The needs of victims of violence themselves have often been neglected. This is particularly regrettable since continued poverty and inequality have been shown to re-fuel conflict. The aim of the research project is to identify victims’ needs and their own senses of what is necessary to achieve sustainable peace, focusing on the reparative needs of women as a group that is particularly marginalised. Interviews and focus groups will be conducted with victims of the post-election violence in 2007/08 in Kenya. These data will enable an empirical study of the relationships between transitional justice and what might be called transformative justice – the tackling of structural violence and longer-term social change in a victim-centred manner to prevent future conflict.
This project hopes to give voice to the needs, demands and perspectives of a group of people who are often neglected in peace processes – women victims of human rights violations – in order to better understand how societies should deal with legacies of violent pasts and how to prevent the recurrence of conflict. Research outputs will include academic publications, findings and recommendations for relevant government agencies, and a research blog.