Comparing What to What? Intersecting Methodological Issues in Comparative Area Studies and Transitional Justice Research

Anika Oettler


The paper discusses how current methodological debates on the potentials of Comparative Area Studies intersect with current trends in transitional justice research. As the field of transitional justice studies is approximating a status of maturation, academic enterprises tend to focus on empirical as well as theoretical generalization. The challenge of comparative transitional justice research consists less in weighing national impacts of policies than in taking into account a more historicized conception of causality, inclined to complex long-term processes as well as global interdependencies. From the perspective of Comparative Area Studies, the case of transitional justice studies testifies to the need of combing local, national, transnational, trans-local as well as global foci of analysis.


Area Studies; Comparative Area Studies; Transitional Justice; Comparison; History of Science

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Anika Oettler is a professor of sociology at Marburg University and an associate researcher at the GIGA Institute of Latin American Studies. Her research interests include transitional justice, violence, and social inequalities. email: