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Investigating what happened: On truth commissions in processes of transition

International Sociology

Published online on


Periods of intense political conflict, violence and state terrorism leave a legacy that transitional regimes must address. This legacy involves divided societies, victims of abuses, perpetrators who may live with impunity (when amnesties have been implemented) or may face different forms of justice and punishment, and movements and organizations that demand state action to address the past through a variety of possible policies. Based on the cases of investigative commissions (so-called truth commissions) in Argentina and Brazil, the article discusses the historically specific and contextual nature of these victim-centered institutions.