Tiffany MacLellan’s dissertation for the Department of Law and Legal Studies has won the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities Julian Mezey Dissertation Award.

The annual international prize is awarded to “the dissertation that most promises to enrich and advance interdisciplinary scholarship at the intersection of law, culture and the humanities.” It is the first time a graduate student studying at a Canadian university has won the award.

MacLellan’s dissertation is entitled, “Painting Pasts and Futures: Transitional Justice, Museums, and Aesthetic Interruptions.”

She conducted field work on museum exhibitions of war crimes tribunals in the U.S. and Germany and found that “while curators tend to reaffirm the temporal logic wielded in mainstream transitional justice theory, this narrative is infinitely vulnerable to aesthetic disruptions that encourage us to think political transformation otherwise.”

MacLellan says the narrative of transitional justice “problematically conceptualizes political communities on a clean trajectory of evolution towards democracy. In doing so, this temporal line of thinking forecloses the possibility of conceiving political transformation as infinitely on-going, and therefore permits political communities and correlative state institutions to narrate themselves away from legacies of violence and responsibility.”

“I am very proud of Tiffany for her excellent work and doubly happy that this reflects so well on our department and university, said Stacy Douglas, Associate Professor of Law and Legal Studies.