Joanna Quinn

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

Quinn_J

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


Research Interests

Dr. Quinn’s research considers the role of acknowledgement in overcoming the effects of human rights abuses after conflict and in settler colonial societies.  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 role of thin sympathy in the acknowledgement process, and how certain pre-conditions could be developed and put in place that would allow for the durable and robust development of acknowledgement of the past further down the line.


Current Research Projects

Thin Sympathy and Acknowledgement 

Transitional justice processes often do not produce the kinds of results that are sought, like the acknowledgement of past atrocity, which needs to take place for transitional justice success. For all the public conversation about reconciliation and social harmony, it is more often the case that transitional justice mechanisms finish to low fanfare, or that their results are never made public. Thin sympathy is a corollary to my earlier acknowledgement hypothesis and suggests that certain pre-conditions could be developed and put in place that would allow for the durable and robust development of acknowledgement of the past further down the line. In particular, I am interested in those very beginning stages of the development of a basic understanding of the past, not in perpetrators or victims, but in “everybody else”—that is, outsiders to that past. In places like Canada, Northern Ireland, and Uganda, where ethno-cultural divides have been hardened, and where people show, at the very least, a lack of interest or concern, if not out-right hatred for each other, empathy is just not possible. At least, not yet. Where that understanding does not exist, communities cannot be expected to make the jump to empathy; first they need to be made aware of what took place. What is needed is the development of only a very rudimentary understanding—thin sympathy—among individuals from each of the different factions and groups about the basic facts of the other’s suffering. In this instance, “sympathy” does not mean “I feel sorry for you” but is used, instead, to refer to understanding, awareness, recognition, and appreciation. The thin sympathetic hypothesis suggests that thin sympathy, the acquisition of a basic understanding of what has taken place, will allow for the development of a more durable transitional justice process. And while many assume that this understanding already exists, my work and the work of others has clearly demonstrated that there is a significant gap in that kind of perception across the different groups. Thin sympathy could help the wider population understand the needs of survivors by changing the broader social ethos, and convince them of the need to put into place processes of acknowledgement and transitional justice like truth commissions and customary justice, and to take part in those processes once they are established.


Selected Publications

Books

  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, Thin Sympathy: A Strategy to Thicken Transitional Justice. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021.
  • 2020: Samar El-Masri, Tammy Lambert, and Joanna R. Quinn, eds., Transitional Justice in Comparative Perspective: Preconditions for Success. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.
  • 2010: Joanna R. Quinn, The Politics of Acknowledgement: Truth Commissions in Uganda and Haiti.  Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010.
  • 2009: Joanna R. Quinn, ed., Reconciliation(s): Transitional Justice in Postconflict Societies.  Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009.

Selected Recent Refereed Journal Articles

  • 2020: David Hoogenboom and Joanna R. Quinn, “Transitional Justice and the Diaspora: Examining the impact of the Haitian Diaspora on the Haitian Truth Commission,” Griffith Law Review 29.1: 134-149; https://doi.org/10.1080/10383441.2020.1868281.
  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “The Impact of State Abdication on Transitional Justice: When Non-State Actors Fill the Post-Transition Gap,” Peacebuilding 9.2: 114-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21647259.2021.1895626.
  • 2021: Adam Kochanski and Joanna R. Quinn, “Letting the State Off the Hook? Dilemmas of Holding the State to Account in Times of Transition,” Peacebuilding 9.2: 103-113. https://doi.org/10.1080/21647259.2021.1895616.
  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “Power to the People: Abuses of power in customary practices of acknowledgement in Uganda,” African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review 11: forthcoming.
  • 2019: Joanna R. Quinn, “The Prospects for Customary Law in Transitional Justice: The Case of Fiji,” Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice 36: 249-262.
  • 2019: Joanna R. Quinn, “The Role and Influence of the Diaspora on the Thin Sympathetic Response,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 42.11: 1830-1849.
  • 2019: Christopher Lamont, Joanna R. Quinn, and Eric Wiebelhaus-Brahm, “The Ministerialization of Transitional Justice,” Human Rights Review 20.1: 103-122.
  • 2017: Joanna R. Quinn, “Searching for the Transitional Justice ‘Effect’,” International Journal of Peace Studies, 22.1: 39-59.
  • 2015-14: Joanna R. Quinn, “Whither the Transition of Transitional Justice,” Interdisciplinary Journal of Human Rights Law, 8: 63-79.
  • 2015: Joanna R. Quinn, “The impact of internal conflict on customary institutions and law: the case of Uganda,” Journal of African Law, 58.1 (March): 220-236. doi:10.1017/S0021855315000042

Selected Recent Book Chapters

  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “Building Thin Sympathetic Engagement to Foster Truth Commission Success,” in Trading Justice for Peace? Critical Perspectives on the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in South Africa, Canada, and Norway, eds. Sigridur Gudmarsdottir, Paulette Regan, Demaine Solomons (Cape Town, South Africa: AOSIS), forthcoming.
  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “Foregrounding Transitional Justice Success through the Development of Thin Sympathy,” Beyond transitional justice? Transformative justice and the state of the field (or non-field), ed. Matthew Evans (Routledge), forthcoming
  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “Transitional Justice,” in Human Rights: Theory and Practice, 4th ed., ed. Michael Goodhart (London: Oxford University Press, August), forthcoming.
  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “Customary/Traditional Responses to Atrocity Crimes,” in Oxford Handbook of Atrocity Crime, eds. Barbora Hola, Hollie Nyseth Brehm and Maartje Weerdesteijn (Oxford University Press), forthcoming. 
  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “Cause and Effect: The Invisible Barriers of the Royal Society of Canada,” Royally Wronged: The Royal Society of Canada’s Role in the Marginalization of Indigenous Knowledge, eds. Constance Backhouse, Cynthia Milton, Adele Perry, and Margaret Kovach (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press), forthcoming.
  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “Developing Thin Sympathy and Operationalizing Acknowledgment,” in Transition to Peace: Between Norms and Practice, ed. Ho-Won Jeong (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield), 177-204, in press.
  • 2020: Joanna R. Quinn, “The Role and Influence of the Diaspora on the Thin Sympathetic Response,” in Diaspora Mobilizations for Transitional Justice, eds. Maria Koinova and Dzeneta Karabegovic (New York: Routledge, 2020). *Originally published as article in special issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies.*
  • 2020: Joanna R. Quinn, “Tractionless Transitional Justice in Uganda: The Potential for Thin Sympathetic Interventions as Ameliorating Factor,” in Transitional Justice in Comparative Perspective: Preconditions for Success, eds. Samar El-Masri, Tammy Lambert, and Joanna R. Quinn (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), 19-48.
  • 2020: Samar El-Masri, Tammy Lambert, and Joanna R. Quinn, “Changing the Context: Can conditions be created that are more conducive to transitional justice success?” in Transitional Justice in Comparative Perspective: Preconditions for Success, eds. Samar El-Masri, Tammy Lambert, and Joanna R. Quinn (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), 1-18.
  • 2020: Samar El-Masri, Tammy Lambert, and Joanna R. Quinn, “Moving Forward: Strengthening Transitional Justice Through Pre-Existing Conditions and Ameliorating Factors,” in Transitional Justice in Comparative Perspective: Preconditions for Success, eds. Samar El-Masri, Tammy Lambert, and Joanna R. Quinn (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), 217-228.
  • 2017: Joanna R. Quinn, “Madly Off in All Directions: Civil Society and Transitional Justice in Uganda,” in Advocating Transitional Justice in Africa: The Role of Civil Society, eds. Jasmina Brankovic and Hugo van der Merwe (New York: Springer), 135-160.
  • 2017: Joanna R. Quinn, “The Development of Transitional Justice,” in Research Handbook on Transitional Justice, eds. Cheryl Lawther and Luke Moffett with Dov Jacobs (London: Edward Elgar Publishing), 11-33.
  • 2017: Joanna R. Quinn, “Kastom in Dispute Resolution: Transitional Justice, Customary Law, and Legal Pluralism in Solomon Islands,” in Transitional Justice in the Solomon Islands, ed. Renée Jeffery (New York: Palgrave), 63-84.
  • 2016: Joanna R. Quinn, “Cultivating Sympathy and Reconciliation: The Importance of Sympathetic Response in the Uptake of Transitional Justice,” in The limits of settler colonial reconciliation: Non-Indigenous people and the responsibility to engage, eds. Tom Clark, Ravi de Costa, Sarah Maddison (New York: Springer), 119-135.
  • 2016: Joanna R. Quinn, “Transitional Justice,” in Human Rights: Politics and Practice, 3rd ed., ed. Michael Goodhart (London: Oxford University Press, April 2016), 389-404.
  • 2015: Joanna R. Quinn, “Comparing Formal and Informal Mechanisms in Uganda,” in Trials and Tribulations of International Prosecution, eds. Henry (Chip) Carey and Stacey Mitchell (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield), 239-254.
  • 2016: Joanna R. Quinn, “Transitional Justice,” in Human Rights: Politics and Practice, 2nd ed., ed. Michael Goodhart (London: Oxford University Press, January), 328-343 

Recent Conference Presentations

  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “Changing the Shape of (Colonial) Nations Using Thin Sympathy,” Memory Studies Association (online): July 5.
  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “Changing the Shape of (Colonial) Nations Using Thin Sympathy,” Memory Studies Association (online): July 5.
  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “Tensile Strength: Exploring the Stretchiness of the Thin Sympathetic Hypothesis in Settler-Colonial Contexts,” Canadian Political Science Association annual conference (online): June 9.
  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “Using the ‘Everyday’ to Produce Thin Sympathetic Engagement,” Canadian Peace Research Association annual conference (online): June 5.
  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “Surge Capacity and the Thin Sympathetic Hypothesis: The capacity to prevent escalating violence,” Law and Society Association (online): May 27.
  • 2021: Joanna R. Quinn, “The Goldilocks Solution: Facilitating Supports around the “Everyday” to Produce Thin Sympathetic Engagement for Thicker Transitional Justice,” International Studies Association (online): April 6.
  • 2019: Joanna R. Quinn, “A Bridge to Somewhere: Strengthening weak and latent ties in multi-ethnic, divided societies after protracted conflict,” Canadian Political Science Association, Vancouver, BC: June 4-6.
  • 2019: Roundtable Participant, “Memory Studies in Political Science: Methodologies and Research Areas,” Canadian Political Science Association, Vancouver, BC: June 4-6, 2019.
  • 2019: Joanna R. Quinn, “’Manufacturing’ Thin Sympathy Through the Use of Public Diplomacy to Bridge the Divide Between Estranged Ethno-Cultural Groups in Multi-Ethnic Divided Societies,” Law and Society Association, Washington, DC: May 30, 2019.
  • 2019: Joanna R. Quinn, “The Impact of Labels on How We See and Do Transitional Justice,” The Importance of Labels in Transitional Justice: A Symposium, Western University, London, ON: May 8.
  • 2019: Joanna R. Quinn, “’Doing’ Thin Sympathetic Engagement to Overcome Interethnic Conflict: Engaging the Population After Atrocity in Preparation for Transitional Justice,” International Studies Association, Toronto, ON: March 29.
  • 2019: Joanna R. Quinn, “Contact, Conflict, and Thin Sympathetic Engagement in Transitional Justice,” International Studies Association, Toronto, ON: March 30.
  • 2019: Joanna R. Quinn, “Letting the State off the Hook, or The Impact of State Abdication on Transitional Justice: When Non-State Actors Fill the Post-Transition Gap,” International Studies Association, Toronto, ON: March 26.
  • 2018: Joanna R. Quinn, “What Makes People Care?” Exploring the Pre-Conditions of Transitional Justice, Western University, London, ON: June 14.
  • 2018: Joanna R. Quinn, “Applying the Thin Sympathetic Hypothesis in Settler Colonial Contexts,” Law and Society Association, Toronto, ON: June 9.
  • 2018: Joanna R. Quinn, “Thickening the Transitional Justice Strategy through Thin Sympathetic Engagement,” International Studies Association, San Francisco, CA: April 5.
  • 2018: Roundtable Participant, “Diasporas and Transitional Justice: Causal Mechanisms in Global and Local Politics,” International Studies Association, San Francisco, CA: April 5.
  • 2017: Joanna R. Quinn, “Switching On the Thin Sympathetic Response: Choosing an Appropriate Transitional Justice Mechanism and Engaging the Population After Atrocity,” Canadian Political Science Association, Toronto, ON: May 30.