Restorative justice is an alternative form of justice that seeks to effect reconciliation between perpetrators and survivors. Transitional justice has similar goals but aims to foster reconciliation between offenders and oppressed groups at the scale of the community and even the nation. The values of “truth, accountability, reparation, reconciliation, conflict resolution and democratic participation” are key for both restorative and transitional justice, which are hoped to promote understanding and healing in the wake of war, colonialism and other forms of violent conflict (O’Mahony and Doak 2012: 305. DOI: 10.1163/157181212X650010). Fundamentally, both forms of alternative justice aim to repair social bonds through truth-telling, witnessing, and facing the atrocities of the past.
In some countries, such as Colombia, there is a well-developed design discourse on what reconciliation should look and feel like, in a spatial sense. In Canada, however, during the activities of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, alternative justice workers had to contend with “make do” or “found” spaces such as schools and churches, which were inseparable from the kinds of trauma that the commission aimed to address. The Spaces of Restorative and Transitional Justice is a research-creation project based at Concordia University in Montréal, Québec, Canada. It asks, what is the nature of the spaces used for alternative justice practices? And how can we learn from listening to alternative justice architects, case workers, and advocates in order to create better spaces for this work? This website provides an open-access tool for practitioners of restorative justice and transitional justice worldwide. Here the visitor will find: case studies of alternative justice spaces, both purpose-built and adaptive re-use; interviews with diverse individuals involved in the field of alternative justice, and (by fall 2022); designs produced by architecture students at the School of Architecture, McGill University, responding to these materials and proposing provisional solutions for the spatial needs of alternative justice at different scales.
This project is led by Dr Cynthia Hammond (Art History, Concordia University) in collaboration with Dr Luis Sotelo Castro (Acts of Listening Lab/Department of Theatre, Concordia University), Dr Ipek Türeli (Canada Research Chair in Architectures of Spatial Justice, School of Architecture, McGill University) and a team of research assistants. (See people.)