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Abstract

As communities – both local and international – have struggled to come to terms with situations of mass atrocity, expectations have increasingly been placed on international criminal courts to render authoritative historical narratives concerning international crimes and the surrounding contexts of their commission. Against this background, the aims of the present study are twofold: first, to examine how historical narratives are constructed within international criminal judgments, including identifying which actors tend to exert influence over the process in particular institutional settings; and second, to illuminate what tends to be included and foregrounded within, as well as marginalized and excluded from, such narratives in practice. Drawing on insights from field theory, this study demonstrates how the scope and content of the historical narratives constructed within international criminal judgments have been shaped and restricted by the drafting, interpretative and charging practices of different social actors interacting within the field of international criminal justice. By conducting a detailed examination of the range, scope and content of the categories of persons, crimes and culpability adjudicated within different international criminal settings, the study concludes that the historical narratives constructed within international criminal judgments have tended to be shaped and restricted in accordance with the established relations of domination that exist between and within States on the international plane.

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