From transitional to performative justice: peace activism in the aftermath of communal violence

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Interventions such as courts and truth commissions are elements of an internationally established transitional justice (TJ) toolkit. Such measures are rarely sustainable or in place after the occurrence of mass violence. Those affected then have to themselves get active to restore social relationships. Civil society plays an important role in these transitions, but civil society also needs to be scrutinised to deconstruct reductionist conceptualisations in TJ discourses. Taking the Moluccan conflict and peace process as a case study, this paper looks into alternative ways that communities seek to transition from violence to peace and in the process ask for forms of justice not exclusively related to physical violence. Instead, communities focus on continuing social injustices that they believe underlie this violence. Analysis of the case study promotes an understanding of TJ not primarily as transitional, but as transformative and performative. In this way locally driven transitional justice mechanisms look not only into the past and legacies of violence, but also into legacies of harmony and peace and the emergence of integrative means in the future. The case study shows that forms of art in Maluku were turned into a force that aimed to reintegrate society divided by violence and unite society to resist exploitation and suppression by outside forces. Young people played important roles in this dynamic. The search for reconciliation in Maluku was in this way transformed into a broader struggle against structural violence and destructive outside interventions and for social justice and sustainable peace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-220
Number of pages20
JournalGlobal Change, Peace and Security
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • arts
  • Maluku (Indonesia)
  • Peacebuilding
  • performative resistance
  • transformative justice
  • youth

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