The Epistemic Violence of Transitional Justice: A View from Sri Lanka

Grewal, Kiran K. 2023. The Epistemic Violence of Transitional Justice: A View from Sri Lanka. International Journal of Transitional Justice, 17(2), pp. 322-338. ISSN 1752-7716 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this article I explore the failures of transitional justice in post-war Sri Lanka. For most commentators this is simply explained in terms of a lack of political will. However, I argue that beyond this transitional justice in Sri Lanka is a story of epistemic violence. This is a result of its over-reliance on abstract, universalist liberal democratic theory that fails to properly grasp the historical, cultural and socio-political specificity not just of the locations where transitional justice is proposed but of the conceptual foundation of transitional justice itself. As a result, transitional justice simultaneously discounts colonial legacies while reproducing colonial categories. In the case of Sri Lanka this has resulted in a failure to fully understand and address the root causes of conflict and an inability to see and draw upon resources for reconciliation, reparation and redress.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


coloniality, transitional justice, epistemic violence, Sri Lanka

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Unit for Global Justice (UGJ)


24 June 2023Accepted
12 July 2023Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

30 Aug 2023 16:15

Last Modified:

30 Aug 2023 16:15

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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