Dilemmas of Justice in Eastern Europe's Democratic Transitions

Overview

Calhoun innovatively examines how the ideology of liberal democracy influences one of the most contentious and potentially traumatic and divisive issues facing countries transitioning from authoritarian regimes to democracy: how to confront the past violations of human rights. Competing views of liberal democracy frame debates about how to confront the past and in particular how to deal with the truth of systematic human rights violations. Democratic values may not determine the precise method of dealing with the...

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Overview

Calhoun innovatively examines how the ideology of liberal democracy influences one of the most contentious and potentially traumatic and divisive issues facing countries transitioning from authoritarian regimes to democracy: how to confront the past violations of human rights. Competing views of liberal democracy frame debates about how to confront the past and in particular how to deal with the truth of systematic human rights violations. Democratic values may not determine the precise method of dealing with the past—whether through truth commissions, lustration, or tribunals—but the very process of debate inherent in democratic theory and practice has important implications for the perceived fairness of the result. These implications are examined through a comparison of transitional justice in East Germany, Poland, and Russia. The result is a provocative integration of democratic theory and comparative politics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An insightful, rigorously documented, and conceptually provocative approach to the difficult and often controversial relationship between truth and justice in post-Leninist societies. Required reading for all those who want to understand the dilemmas of de-communization and battle between memory and oblivion in East-Central Europe and the former Soviet Union."—Vladimir Tismaneanu, Professor of Politics, University of Maryland (College Park), and author of Stalinism for All Seasons: A Political History of Romanian Communism

"Dilemmas about morality and treatment of the discredited past have been shortchanged in studies of the transition away from communism in the former Soviet bloc, in favor of work on economic reform and political institutions. Noel Calhoun's lucid book on historical justice in Germany, Poland, and Russia helps right the balance. She clearly shows how and why outcomes diverged in the three countries and draws provocative conclusions for theories of democratization and democracy."—Timothy J. Colton, Harvard University

"This is a very informative, well-written, and thought-provoking book. Calhoun skillfully uses a wide array of primary and archival sources to construct detailed accounts of the decisions made during and after the transitions from communism in Poland, East Germany, and Russia concerning past human rights abuses. She also develops a persuasive explanation of these divergent choices. Dilemmas of Justice will be an important resource for anyone interested in understanding how post-communist regimes come to terms with their past."—Sharon Werning Rivera, Hamilton College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403963895
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Noel Calhoun holds a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University. She previously taught comparative politics at the City University of New York and Moscow State University. Currently she works for a non-profit organization in Moscow, Russia.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Dilemma of Transitional Justice
• The Politics of Transitional Justice
• Liberal Democratic Ideology and Transitional Justice
• Germany Comes to Terms with the Past, Again
• Poland's Long Search for Justice
• Russia's Buried Past
• Liberal Democracy's Shortcomings...and Overriding Advantage
• Appendices
• Bibliography

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