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New publication by Kerstin von Lingen on war crime trials

Sep 13, 2017

PD Dr. Kerstin von Lingen, Independent Research Group Leader at the Cluster, edited the volume "Debating Collaboration and Complicity in War Crimes Trials in Asia, 1945-1956", published by Palgrave Macmillan in August 2017. It reflects, in particular, the results of an international symposium entitled "Rethinking Justice? Decolonization, Cold War, and Asian War Crimes Trials after 1945", which was held in Heidelberg in October 2014.

This volume examines the nexus between war crimes trials and the pursuit of collaborators in post-war Asia and was published as part of the book series "World Histories of Crime, Culture and Violence" with Palgrave Macmillan in August 2017. It is the second publication by Kerstin von Lingen in this series, following "War Crimes Trials in the Wake of Decolonization and Cold War in Asia, 1945-1956: Justice in Time of Turmoil", which has been available since November 2016. The series publishes academic works addressing themes and issues of interdisciplinary histories of crime, criminal justice, criminal policy, culture and violence.

"Global standards of behavior in time of war underpinned the prosecution of Japanese military personnel in Allied courts in Asia and the Pacific," emphasizes von Lingen. "Japan’s contradictory roles in the Second World War as brutal oppressor of conquered regions in Asia and as liberator of Asia from both Western colonialism and stultifying tradition set the stage for a tangled legal and political debate."

She continues to explain: "There is still so much research to be done. Where did colonized and oppressed peoples owe their loyalties in time of war? Where did the balance of responsibility lie between individuals and nations?"

The results of the workshop "Rethinking Justice? Decolonization, Cold War, and Asian War Crimes Trials after 1945" is a first step towards a more comprehensive history of the war crimes trials in Asia. The workshop demonstrated how global standards jostled uneasily with the pluralism of the Western colonial order in Asia, where legal rights depended on race and nationality. In the end, these limits led to profound dissatisfaction with the trials process, despite its vast scale and ambitious intentions, which has implications until today.

Kerstin von Lingen is Leader of the Junior Research Group "Transcultural Justice: Legal Flows and the Emergence of International Justice within the East Asian War Crimes Trials, 1945-1954" at the Cluster "Asia and Europe". Her research foci are transnational and global history, war crimes trials in Europe and Asia, and the history of the United Nations War Crimes Commission.

For more information, please visit the website of the publication.


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