Cynthia Milton

Canada Research Chair in Latin American History

Tier 2 - 2017-11-01
Renewed: 2012-04-01
Université de Montréal
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council


Research involves

Understanding not only the weaknesses but also the strengths of truth commissions as means of facilitating the transition from an authoritarian to a democratic regime.

Research relevance

Helping to develop effective tools for countries in transition from an authoritarian to a democratic regime.

The Truth, the Whole Truth.

A growing number of countries are making the transition from an authoritarian to a democratic regime. South Africa, Argentina, Cambodia and Chile are just a few of them. By establishing "truth commissions," countries in transition are acquiring the means not only to acknowledge past injustices but also to embark on a process of inclusive reconstruction based on openness and frankness. But what does "telling the truth" mean in such a context?

Chairholder Cynthia Milton plans to answer this question, bearing as it does on a particular type of transition and the role of truth and its modes of expression. Specifically, she will analyze official documents and records in the broad sense - songs, plays, artifacts, works of art, monuments, etc. - as well as testimony from a variety of unofficial sources, including political activists.

As a member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States, Canada participates actively in efforts to help countries make the transition to a more democratic regime, and it does so by facilitating the establishment of truth commissions and stressing the importance of enforcing applicable international law.

Dr. Milton plans to explore what "telling the truth" means in a variety of contexts and thus provide countries in transition with some new perspectives and opportunities. Truth commissions are being increasingly viewed as an ideal forum for exposing, revisiting and re-examining many past injustices. Studying both traditional and innovative ways to resolving conflicts by telling the truth, she will focus on existing models, their weaknesses and also their strengths.