A Trace of Hope: Human Rights, Atrocity, and the Memory of Resistance


ACLS Fellowship Program


Political Science


How have human rights and transitional justice institutions documented efforts to resist the atrocities that they investigate? Why has the theme of resistance been relegated to the margins of debates on “dealing with the past”? Under the influence of the human rights movement, efforts to reckon with past abuses are generally framed in relation to the categories of victim and perpetrator. This project examines how such institutions have documented, judged, and avoided stories of those who engaged in various forms of resistance against such abuses. It argues that attention to the theme of resistance exposes a paradox in the way that the human rights movement conceptualizes agency—one that has profound implications for ongoing efforts to pursue accountability and political reconciliation.