In-progress book project: ‘Maternal Legacies of Transitional Justice’

I am currently revising my dissertation, Nurturing Democracy during Armed Conflicts through Political Motherhood, into a book entitled Maternal Legacies of Transitional Justice. Some of the chapters of my dissertation are in-progress articles while the rest will be revised into a manuscript.

The book project examines the legacies of the Madres of the Plaza de Mayo of Argentina and the Mothers’ Front of Sri Lanka, two political motherhood movements that mobilized in Argentina’s period of state terrorism and Sri Lanka’s civil war. Both groups catalyzed in response to enforced disappearances in which the state was responsible for imprisoning citizens without warrants in locations unknown to their loved ones, where “the disappeared” face torture and often murder.

While the Madres of the Plaza de Mayo remain a mainstay in Argentine politics, now organized for four decades, and are globally recognized human rights icons, the Mothers’ Front disbanded after seven years and never captured the world’s attention. Even within Sri Lanka, the Mothers’ Front has been largely forgotten, although Sri Lanka’s feminist community retains their memory.

I ask how some activists are made visible and how some are remembered to draw out and understand how political motherhood may lend itself to women’s political empowerment and transitional justice processes.

Transitional justice refers to processes countries may undertake to address systemic human rights violations (such as in a genocide) or crimes against humanity committed in armed conflicts.