Astrid Jamar has been researching transitional justice in Rwanda and Burundi since 2006. From 2008 to 2011, she gained field experience working with several international NGOs and local institutions implementing transitional justice processes in the two countries. Reflection on these experiences in academic and policy-orientated research formed the basis of her doctoral research.
Her research experience has centred around two questions: how can a society recover from mass violence, and how can international aid support such a process? Throughout, she worked on various dimensions of peacebuilding, human rights and transitional justice policies. She is particularly interested in understanding the everyday struggles of aid practitioners in Rwanda and Burundi, and the frictions between global/local dimensions in policy-making and the implementation of aid-dependent transitional justice policies.
Books and Reports
Astrid Jamar, Victims’ Inclusion and Transitional Justice: Attending to the Exclusivity of Inclusion Politics, (Global Justice Academy, 2018)
Abstract: This report reviews efforts to include victims in transitional justice programmes, and the difficulties of managing the politics of inclusion in the transitional justice setting. It draws on empirical data from peace agreements and fieldwork in Burundi to scrutinize how inclusion is provided for in peace agreements on paper, and in post-agreement practice. The report argues that ‘victimhood’ and ‘inclusion’ are concepts that lack conceptual clarity. In practice, inclusion efforts are often pursued without consideration for the political and socio-cultural dynamics that emerge with any attempt to design an inclusive transitional justice process. Intervening to ensure inclusivity involves entering webs of power dynamics between individuals who have fluid political and social identities.
Astrid Jamar, Burundi Case Study: Negotiating Inclusion - The Role of Human Rights & Strategies for Change, (Global Justice Academy, 2017)
Abstract: The Burundi case study reviews how institutional reforms have approached the long history of violence and political exclusion. Since its independence in 1961, the exclusion of ethnic, social or political groups from the political space and its attached benefits has motivated the formation of rebel groups, and the use of violence to challenge, acquire or maintain political privileges. Signed from 2000 to 2009, the Arusha and subsequent peace agreements led to the establishment of a broad and inclusive power-sharing system with the aim of achieving an ethnic, regional and gender equilibrium. Despite resulting important transformation of the institutional framework (organising the government, the legislative body, political parties, the security forces, and wider public services), the issues of exclusion and violence remained important in the political landscape in Burundi. Given the current political context marked by fear and violence, it is argued that the peace negotiations need to learn from these institutional limitations and focus on the promotion of a common political community that goes beyond the political and military elite, who have dominated Burundian politics for the last decades.
Astrid Jamar, Escalating Conflict in Burundi: The Challenges of Overcoming Radicalisation, (Political Settlements Research Programme, 2016)
Astrid Jamar, Women and Transitional Justice in Burundi: Conflict, Impunity and Aftermath Consequences, (Impunity Watch, 2012)
Abstract: This desk study is part of a project developed by Impunity Watch, a Dutch research-for-policy organisation engaged in finding innovative solutions to persistent impunity for grave human rights abuses during conflict, to assess and improve the gender sensitivity of processes aimed at dealing with the past in conflict-affected countries. The project compares the situations in Guatemala, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Burundi. This desk study on Burundi, based on existing research, provides an analysis of the recent conflict and its impact on women, an overview of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Recurrence (TJRNR) processes implemented so far and their gender-sensitivity, and a mapping of key actors (state, civil society organisations and the international community) in relation to gender-sensitive approaches to dealing with the past.
Astrid Jamar, Rapport Analytique n°5 du Monitoring des Juridictions Gacaca, (Avocats Sans Frontieres, 2010)
Astrid Jamar, Sanja Badanjak, 'Electing peace: from civil conflict to political participation. By Aila M. Matanock. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2017. ', (2018), International affairs, Vol 94, pp 1458-1459
Astrid Jamar, 'The social life of policy reports: Reporting as a tool in the transitional justice battlefield in Rwanda', (2017), Revue International des Etudes du Développement, pp 165 - 194
Abstract: Adopting a Latourian approach, this article examines the social role played by policy reports, which are produced and used in the everyday implementation of transitional justice, using the Gacaca Courts in Rwanda as a case study. As glossy end products, transitional justice reports create the image of more efficient processes unaffected by difficult politics. The article traces the journey of Gacaca policy reports and the shift from their envisioned role to their actual performed functions: considered as technical safeguards, reports become central tools in the transitional justice battlefield – almost as if reports were used as weapons while arguing about the past and the nature of the transition. Since transitional justice processes mostly culminate in the production of reports which presume to clarify and make accountable complex legacies of violence, such an analysis contributes significantly to addressing the construction of transitional justice narratives critically. Given the ubiquity of reports in aid-dependent policy implementation, this article draws attention to often glossed-over aspects of complex politics and to the contentious role played by international aid organisations. By doing so, the paper encourages discussions about the materiality of international aid and its social consequences.
Astrid Jamar, Fairlie Chappuis, 'Conventions of silence: Emotionality and normativity in war-affected research environments', (2016), Parcours Anthropologiques, Vol 11, pp 95- 117
Abstract: Both academic and policy-orientated research in conflict-affected places occurs principally within the interdisciplinary fields of peace and conflict studies as well as development studies, with strong associations to Political Science and International Relations. The epistemological methodological and professional conventions that dominate these fields routinely ignore – silence – the emotions generated in human experience of violence and poverty. This article develops an analytical framework to deconstruct these conventions that exclude emotionality and normative commitments from the research process. We identify three ways in which dominant research conventions in the study of peace, conflict and development silence emotions, both of the researcher and the research subject. Illustrating these various modes of silencing with direct experiences from policy an academic field research in war-affected contexts, the article shows how these conventions of silence can skew theoretical analysis, disguise political bias in the research and cause personal harm to those involved in the process of knowledge creation.
Astrid Jamar, Ananda Breed, 'Competing narratives and performances in Rwanda’s Gacaca courts ' in Grayson Hannah, Hitchcott Nicki (ed.) Rwanda After 1994 (Liverpool University Press 2018)
Astrid Jamar, 'Training in Transitional Justice in Rwanda and Burundi International Aid for Whose Sake?' in Filip Reyntjens, S. Vandeginste, M. Verpoorten (ed.) L’Afrique des Grands Lacs, Annuaire 2013–2014 (L’Harmattan 2014) 507-530
Astrid Jamar, 'Deterioration of Aid Coordination in Gacaca Implementation Dealing with the Past for a Better Future' in M. Campioni, P. Noack (ed.) Rwanda Fast Forward (Palgrave Macmillan 2012) 76-95