The Role of Envy in Transitional Justice


  • Emanuela Ceva University of Geneva
  • Sara Protasi University of Puget Sound



envy, transitional justice, restorative justice, interactive justice, emulative envy, intergroup conflict


Transitional justice has historically emerged from the belief that, when countries or communities have experienced severe internal conflicts and upheavals, one cannot simply “move on”. To prevent the same wrongdoing from occurring again, parties involved need to draw the line between what was accepted in the past and what will be acceptable in the future. This work occurs through a transformation of societal relationships, which primarily aims to reshape belief and value systems and mold emotional responses between involved parties. A nuanced understanding of the emotions at play in intergroup conflicts is thus essential to transitional justice approaches. Our contribution to this understanding is a philosophical study of the potential of such a common but complex emotion as envy to undermine or, in fact, corroborate just intergroup interactions.

In the first two sections we introduce the concept of transitional justice as transformation of the relationship dynamics, and explain the role of just interactions between parties involved in transitional justice processes. Then, we review some of the ways in which emotions in general are relevant to transitional justice processes. Finally, we narrow our focus to envy, presenting four examples of intergroup conflicts in which group envy played a central role. We conclude by suggesting that investigating envy and its varieties is epistemically valuable and practically relevant to transitional justice processes.