Western University Political ScienceFaculty of Social Science

Joanna Quinn

Associate Professor
Cross-Appointed, Faculty of Law
Affiliate-Appointed, Women's Studies and Feminist Research


Doctor of Philosophy, McMaster University
Telephone: 519.661.2111 ext. 85172
E-mail: jquinn2@uwo.ca
Office: Social Sciences Centre 4158

Research Interests

Since 1998, Dr. Quinn has been engaged in research that considers the role of acknowledgement in overcoming the causes of conflict, which has the potential to affect real and lasting change.  She has written widely on the truth commissions in Uganda, Haiti, and elsewhere, and on the role of customary practices of acknowledgement and justice in transitional justice in Uganda and in Fiji and Solomon Islands.  Her current work concerns the uptake of sympathetic engagement in the acknowledgement process, and how by-standers and outsiders might be effectively engaged.

Current Research Projects

What Makes People Care? Thin Sympathy and Acknowledgement by By-standers and Outsiders to Conflict

The study builds on two successfully completed studies of acknowledgement, or the recognition of past events, in Uganda (Quinn 2010b, 2013, 2015c).  Uganda in particular has experienced gross violations of human rights and significant inter- and intra-group violence and abuse for more than 50 years. Dr. Quinn’s study seeks to understand why by-standers and outsiders do not care to understand what has taken place in survivor communities, and ultimately never engage in processes of acknowledgement and reconciliation in those communities.  It further specifies the acknowledgement hypothesis (Quinn 2003a, 2010b), demonstrating the importance of "thin sympathy" or a basic understanding of the needs of the other as a necessary condition for action. The study focuses on by-standers and outsiders, two groups normally excluded from the victim/perpetrator binary, but which are crucial to the success of social rebuilding because almost every Ugandan falls into one of these outlier categories in the majority of post-Independence conflicts.  

Selected Publications


Edited Books

Refereed Journal Articles

Book Chapters

Recent Conference Presentations

Awards and Distinctions