Bringing narrative victimology to transitional justice: Blame, victimhood and life stories of wrongful conviction

Kevin Hearty*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article applies a narrative victimological lens of inquiry to the memoirs of those wrongfully convicted of high profile politically violent offences arising from the conflict in the North of Ireland. Using these life stories of wrongful conviction, the article critically examines how nuanced and complex understandings of victimhood and blame emerge from within victims’ own testimony. While on the one hand, victims can ‘story’ victimhood and blame in simplistic ways that echo dominant paradigms found within the criminological literature, at the same time they can ‘story’ victimhood and blame in more sophisticated ways that reflect complex debates found within the transitional justice literature. The ability to take both a more generous approach to victimhood that recognises the harm experienced by others and a more critically self-reflective approach of one's own culpability, it is submitted, shows the potential value that proposed oral history mechanisms have in allowing different perspectives on victimhood and blame to emerge from the testimony of those who suffered harms like wrongful conviction.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Criminology
Early online date22 Sept 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 22 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Narrative criminology
  • state crime
  • transitional justice
  • victimology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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