Law and Critique

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 83–106 | Cite as

‘Omnus et Singulatim’: Establishing the Relationship Between Transitional Justice and Neoliberalism

  • Josh BowsherEmail author


First developed by human rights lawyers and activists, transitional justice emerged from the so-called third wave of democratisations in Latin America. Over the last 30 years, transitional justice has risen to become a ‘global project’ of global governance. Locating the emergence of transitional justice within the global rise of neoliberalism, this article shows that transitional justice serves an important function in regards to the particularly neoliberal contours of many transitions. Understanding this relation, the article argues, is best served with recourse to what Wendy Brown describes as neoliberalism’s practice of omnus et singulatim, a double process through which ‘communities’ are gathered together as stakeholders to take part in economic activities whilst simultaneously being individualised as ‘responsibilised’ and self-sufficient entrepreneurial units. Taking this concept, I argue that transitional justice also undertakes a process of omnus et singulatim that usefully prefigures and supports processes of neoliberalisation during ‘transition’. Transitional justice, it concludes, does the necessary work of bringing conflictual, traumatised, societies back together, whilst doing so on terms that do not threaten but instead prefigure the individualising demands made upon subjects at the sites of neoliberal transition.


Human rights Neoliberalism Subjectivity Transitional justice 



My thanks to Tom Harding and Stefanie Petschick, whose comments on an earlier draft of this article helped to sharpen its style and content. I also thank the reviewers for their helpful comments, which have greatly improved the article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Science and Public PolicyKeele UniversityStaffordshireUK

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