How do emerging democracies confront violent pasts while constructing the political institutions for a stable future? Does the need to heal society outweigh individuals' claims to justice for human rights abuses? In this course students examine the choices post-conflict societies have made and continue to confront throughout Latin America. The region has often been characterized by civil war, autocratic government, and grave human rights violations. At the same time, Latin America has emerged as an innovator of institutional forms that have allowed states to confront violence, seek justice, and transition to democracy--a broad array of institutions known collectively as "transitional justice" mechanisms. In the first half of the course students explore the process through which societies in Latin America have sought to come to terms with violent pasts with a focus on specific country case studies. We situate these individual cases in a broader exploration of transitional justice mechanisms, from criminal prosecutions of past leaders to truth commissions that trade amnesty for information. In the second half of the course students will apply these concepts to an in-depth simulation of peace negotiations. Students will represent the interests of a specific political stakeholder while negotiating the form and functioning of transitional justice institutions that might put the country on a path toward peace, justice, and reconciliation.
Prerequisites: PG 102,103, or permission of the instructor.