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The Enduring Colonial Legacies of Land Dispossessions and the Evolving Property Rights Legal Discourses: Whither Transitional Justice?

Africa
Democratisation
Human Rights
Transitional States
Phanuel Kaapama
University of Namibia
Phanuel Kaapama
University of Namibia

Abstract

The previously formally colonised communities and people in different corners of the world continue to grapple with the far – reaching effects and deep historical scars inflicted at the height of the era of western colonial expansion. Through the lenses of these evolving legal discourses of property rights in land, this article problematises Transitional Justice (TJ) as an emerging interdisciplinary field, which has appropriated for itself the normative aims of achieving justice for the victim of violence in the various forms. Based on Johan Galtung’s notion of violence triangle, it uncurled the rather complex and mutually reinforcing interrelationships between evolving legal discourses on property rights in land on the one hand, and the transmutation of the enduring colonial legacies of land dispossessions on the other hand. Finally it concludes by advocating for the broadening the conceptual parameters of mainstream TJ thinking, beyond the narrow confines of western and legalistic notions of property rights. The process for uprooting entrenched histories of violence requires the imagining of what can be rather than holding onto has been. Therefore as an emerging and distinct academic discipline, TJ does hold tremendous prospects for further growth and influence, as well as towards fulfilling its normative aims, provided it is willing to do more in the direction of embracing alternative indigenous values and norms from those communities whose enduring historical hardships it is claiming to be having an interest in.