Knowing Women: Translating Patriarchy in International Criminal Law

Social & Legal Studies, Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2013

See all articles by Doris Buss

Doris Buss

Carleton University - Department of Law

Date Written: March 11, 2013


This article considers how international criminal courts produce knowledge about women’s experiences of large-scale violence. In 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia concluded that the crime of genocide had been committed in Srebrenica in 1995, and that the patriarchal nature of the Bosnian Muslim community was key to the genocide. This paper examines the processes by which the trial and appeal chambers came to know, and author an account of this community as patriarchal. I examine the transcripts of three witnesses who testified about the surviving community of Bosnian Muslim women, tracing how evidence was shaped and reshaped in the courtroom and then in the trial and appeal judgments. I argue here for the importance of exploring the mediating practices and actors that produce legal knowledge, to better understand how complex recognition of gendered harm unfolds, and is sometimes curtailed, through international criminal adjudication.

Keywords: International criminal law, Genocide, Gender, Patriarchy, Women, Victims, Translation, Judges and judging, Social Knowledge

Suggested Citation

Buss, Doris, Knowing Women: Translating Patriarchy in International Criminal Law (March 11, 2013). Social & Legal Studies, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Doris Buss (Contact Author)

Carleton University - Department of Law ( email )

1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6

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