Testimonials

Elizabeth Letcher

I met Chandra in our very first days of law school. I was part of a nerdy group of young women, who took law school and the politics of law school and, for me, awakening into a new kind of academic experience very, very seriously. Chandra moved on the edges of our little clan, standing out for many reasons. It wasn’t just the crazy hair or velvet purses or the scandalous leggings that said “f—k” all over them, worn to seminars taught by storied old men. It wasn’t just that she was so young (I remember after our final first-semester exam, we couldn’t go to a bar for drinks; Chandra may have already had a master’s from Chicago, but she wasn’t yet old enough to drink legally). What made her stand out most was that while she was serious, she didn’t take the crazy, artificial self-importance of law school seriously. She was going to engage with it on her own terms, and call bullshit when she saw it.

I love that about her. I think one facet of her bullshit intolerance became her complaining shtick, one she elevated to near high-art stand-up comedy. Another was channeled into battles with academic bureaucracy. But most was channeled into her work. It didn’t feel from the outside like a passion so much as an innate drive to do the work she was doing. I simply can’t imagine her doing anything else.

I’m still haven’t fully absorbed that she’s gone. I’ll miss the wonderful conversations, hearing about her impossibly life-absorbing work. I’ll miss visiting her in London, where she always took such wonderful care of me: took me to the best food shopping, the latest restaurants, cooking together for and with her always-amazing friends (Wayne, remember that meal so beautiful we photographed it, years before that was a thing?) the nights out. I never felt so cosmopolitan as when I was with her.

Her intensity. Her silliness and irreverence. The eyebrow arched over the rim of the martini glass. I will miss her so, once her departure becomes real to me.

Elizabeth

Dorina Bekoe

I am stunned to learn of Chandra’s sudden passing. I got to know her when we both worked at the International Peace Institute. At the time, I was a newly minted Ph.D. Chandra’s already-growing list of accomplishments were inspiring. At the same time, she was generous with her time and insight. Her contributions to human rights, transitional justice, and peacebuilding are lasting legacies. She will be sorely missed.

Dorina Bekoe

Alison Brysk

Chandra was a trailblazing scholar, a tireless and generous colleague, and an inspiration to the academic and human rights community – but she was so much more. I cannot remember the year, but she introduced herself to me some time in the early 2000’s at an ISA conference, and from then on, she became one of my global tribe of soul-sisters. Over almost two decades, we organized panels, visited each others’ workshops, and from time to time had transformative conversations (usually Skype but sometimes over glorious dinners) about life, love, and learning. I felt honored to be included in her rolling transnational salon of ISA meet-ups, and came to know her circle of talented collaborators. Chandra had an esprit, a consciousness, and a way of walking in the world that illuminated us all. She was a presence. The last time I saw her, this past spring, she was hosting cocktails at the Redwood Room, and that is how I will remember her – raising a glass to the republic of letters.

Alison Brysk

Keegan Le Sage

I am truly saddened to hear that Chandra has passed away. Chandra was an amazing mentor for women; a woman other women could look up to – so kind, so smart, so wise; she had achieved so much but was down to earth and humble, and in a world in which we currently live this is a loss which can genuinely be felt.

My thoughts are with Chandra’s family, her friends, and anyone who had been graced with Chandra’s bright and cheery presence.

Keegan

Harvey Weinstein

I am stunned at this news. Chandra was an important colleague in the development of our International TJ Workshop devoted to bringing academics and activists from the Global North and South together to explore the issues of power and powerlessness. Her critical insights and enthusiasm for the work made working with her a joy. She was smart, funny and always engaged. Her contributions to the development of transitional justice as a field were many and important. What an incredible loss! My sympathies to her family and all who loved her.

Harvey Weinstein

Demetra Loizou

Chandra was a beacon of light, reason, calmness and humour during my PhD studies. I remember meeting her back in 2011. I entered SOAS for the first time, both anxious and excited that I was about to meet my PhD supervisor. And I remember even more clearly how calm and reassured and even more excited about my PhD I felt after our first meeting. I regret that I didn’t tell her when I had the chance how much I appreciated her as a person, an academic, a researcher, a supervisor and as an advisor during my PhD and beyond… Words are too poor to express the loss to her family and friends in academia and beyond.

Demetra Loizou

Lars Waldorf

Bulleit Bourbon and Halo Pub ice-cream. These were a few of our favorite things.

Thanks for blurbing Remaking Rwanda, including me in one of your (prodigiously many) edited collections, defending my right to law-review-style footnotes, introducing me to ISA, and helping me see the links between TJ and peacebuilding more clearly.

Lars

Anthony Tirado Chase

There are really no words. Chandra will be much missed as a scholar, a fierce critic, and a fabulous dining/drinking partner. As someone who only started working with Chandra over the last 3 or 4 years, I want more than anything else to note and pay tribute to her incredibly generous spirit. There are other great scholars out there, but no one more committed to both crossing disciplinary and intellectual borders while maintaining absolute academic integrity. And I absolutely do not know other scholars as willing to go out of their way to generously help the work of those lucky enough to cross her path. I was very lucky indeed in that respect, and so very sad at the loss. We are all lesser for that.

Anthony Tirado Chase

Devon Curtis

This is terrible, unfair, heart-breaking news. It is such an awful loss to so many of us personally, to academia, and to the world. I am very fortunate to have attended many of the same conferences and workshops as Chandra over the years, and to have met some of her students when I gave a seminar at UEL. I learned so much from her. She was amazingly prolific, generous with her time and intellectual energy, incisive in her criticism and feedback, and unafraid to use her voice. Her work dealt with difficult choices and difficult circumstances and she managed to convey her ideas clearly and powerfully.

Every time we met I was struck by her strong sense of humour and her healthy irreverence. I would always leave smiling, thinking about one of Chandra’s observations about scholarship, people, politics, good (or bad) food, and good (or bad) places. She had low tolerance (and high detection capabilities) for arrogance, bullshit and injustice, but she also always knew when it was time to go for a cocktail. I will really miss her.

Devon Curtis

Necla Tschirgi

I am still struggling to accept that Chandra is no longer with us.  She was so unique in so many ways and left an indelible mark on everyone she knew both personally and professionally. I first met her at the International Peace Academy when she led IPA’s program on conflict prevention in the early 2000s, contributing in important ways to the UN’s early work on conflict prevention long before the recent revival of the prevention agenda. Her post-IPA work as a professor, scholar and researcher reflected her many talents and growing professional interests. I greatly enjoyed our encounters at ISA and other professional gatherings over the years and considered her an invaluable colleague. It was a great privilege to get to know her professionally and personally. Chandra will be greatly missed by her many friends around the world.

Necla Tschirgi, Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego

Mohamed Sesay

Before I met Chandra, she was already the most cited scholar in my research on transitional justice and post-conflict peacebuilding. Then she read my PhD dissertation as my external examiner and gladly accepted to be my mentor in the Justice, Conflict, and Development Network. Over the past two years we attended four workshops together and Chandra read and commented on every paper I have published and still working on. She was my true mentor and supervisor, always there to provide insightful advice and constructive feedback on my work. Whenever we met for lunch or dinner, I had a bonus – her great sense of humor.

Chandra, your mentorship was brief (and I was hoping for more), but it’s an indelible mark in my academic and professional life.

You have gone when we needed you most. Rest in eternal peace, my dear mentor!

Mohamed Sesay

John L. Hirsch

The President and Staff of the International Peace Institute mourn the passing of Chandra Lekha Sriram. From 2000-2003 she was an excellent colleague contributing numerous articles to the Africa program in addition to serving as co-editor with Adekeye Adebajo of Managing Armed Conflict in the 21st Century (London: Frank Cass), as well as other journals. Chandra brought a sharp intellect as well as excellent editing skills to all these projects. She encouraged other staff members to share their insights through these edited volumes. Chandra has passed away far too young; she will be sorely missed.

John L. Hirsch

Laila Fathi

I am writing to you after hearing the passing of Chandra. I was one of her students and she supervised my PhD when she worked at SOAS up until 2016.

I am very shocked by the news. She was a great teacher. Without her, I would not have been able to finish my studies, let alone to believe what I have achieved.

She was a really impressive professor and marked me by both her intelligence and humanity.

I live in Morocco now work in an NGO and teach at a university. Her work and personality still influence me today. I  do hope her family and friends will find comfort. 

She will be missed.

Laila

European Journal of International Relations

It is with great sadness that the Editors of the European Journal of International Relations have learned of the death of our colleague and member of the Editorial Committee of the journal, Chandra Sriram. We had recently asked Chandra to join our Editorial Committee, valuing and hoping to rely on her energy, generosity and intellect, the breadth of her knowledge across international law and politics, and her extraordinary academic citizenship. She had just begun reviewing for us, and we were looking forward to getting to know her better through many years of collaboration. She will be truly missed as a member of the academic community. The Editors extend their most sincere condolences to Chandra’s surviving family and friends.

Ursula Daxecker, Annette Freyberg-Inan, Marlies Glasius, Geoffrey Underhill and Darshan Vigneswaran

This obituary was published in the European Journal of International Relations, vol. 24, no. 4 (December 2018), p. 739.

Adekeye Adebajo

Chandra’s passing is an incredible loss to the world of scholarship. We were together at the International Peace Academy in New York for four wonderful years and co-edited a book on Managing Armed Conflicts. She invited me to deliver a lecture at the University of East London, and edited a ground-breaking book on Transitional Justice in Africa in 2009 while I was directing the Centre for Conflict Resolution in Cape Town. As others have noted, she was the ultimate professional: thorough, rigorous, and calm. Even during the tough times at SOAS, she tried to maintain her good humour. She was always a loyal and dedicated friend and colleague, and meals in London were always interesting. Despite her Ivy league pedigree (Chicago, Berkeley, Princeton) she had no airs or graces and always kept it “real”. The fact she wanted to move to be closer to her mother was characteristic of her selflessness.

Gone too soon, but rest in peace, dear sister.

Love,

Adekeye Adebajo

“Contesting Transitional Justice” conference organisers

We are very saddened by the untimely passing of Prof. Chandra Lekha Sriram. She was a keynote speaker for a student-led conference “Contesting Transitional Justice” organised by the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University in September 2017. As well as an insightful and inspiring keynote lecture, she took time during the conference to speak to young researchers and PhD students and was interested to learn about their projects. Prof. Sriram’s contribution to human rights, transitional justice and post-conflict peacebuilding is deeply valued and we will miss her immensely. 

“Contesting Transitional Justice” conference organisers at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University

Valerie Arnould and Stephan Parmentier

It is with great sadness that the Leuven Institute of Criminology – Human Rights and Transitional Justice Research Line learned of the sudden passing of Chandra Lekha Sriram. Chandra was a highly respected and prolific scholar on transitional justice and peacebuilding, who we greatly valued as a wonderful colleague. We had the honour of welcoming Chandra at the University of Leuven in September 2015 as a keynote speaker at the symposium on ‘Human Rights, Development and Transitional Justice’, and our paths crossed regularly at various conferences across the globe. For some of us, she was also a close collaborator and friend. She will be greatly missed, for her sharp and creative intellectual contributions, her mindboggling ability to juggle multiple projects, her dedication to supporting fellow (junior) scholars, her often irreverent attitude towards the idiosyncrasies of academia, and her off-beat humour. We send our deepest condolences and sympathy to her mother and close friends and will forever remain inspired by her life and work.

Valerie Arnould and Stephan Parmentier, on behalf of the Research Line on Human Rights and Transitional Justice, Leuven Institute of Criminology, University of Leuven

Rachel Kerr

The news of Chandra’s death was deeply shocking and profoundly saddening.  As many have said, it seems so unfair to have lost her at such a young age.  She was a fantastic colleague and a wonderful friend.  Always warm-hearted but taking no prisoners, it was always a bonus to see that she would be attending an event.  And she made conferences all the more bearable with her quick wit, and of course by finding the best dinner spots (especially in New Orleans!).  I made many other friends through Chandra, some of whom are here already, and there are others that I didn’t know she knew, which attests to the very wide circle she embraced.  She will be very much missed and leaves a gaping hole.  As a scholar, she contributed so much to the field of transitional justice as a field forged in a nexus of international law and politics, both intellectually and substantively, and also, crucially, methodologically through guides on fieldwork and recent work on carving out a more sensible approach to finding out not just if transitional justice worked, but how it operated.  She was also hugely important to me as a mentor and as a colleague and I will miss her very much.

Rachel Kerr

Jo Spear

I am heart-sick at Chandra’s untimely passing and a little bit outraged too; how could she leave us when there is so much going on that requires her acute diagnosis, academic energy, and excellent humor?

I will never look at a Dirty Martini without thinking of her, and the champagne bar at St. Pancras is forever “her place” in my mind. Chandra called it her “old lady choice” but it was perfect for a meet up with her!

I first met Chandra in the early noughties when she was working at IPA in New York. We worked on different issues in parallel spaces. We got to know each other better when we decided to swap countries; she to Britain and me to the U.S. I still recall the glee with which she informed me of delights such as “chiggers” (disgusting bugs that get under the skin), and her nonchalance in the face of my threats about gloomy weather in the UK, declaring that she preferred that to sunshine.

Subsequently we met up a couple of times a year to eat, drink and discuss the bureaucratic ridiculousness of the institutions / countries we were now working in. This usually involved a mix of laughter and annoyance as we tried to understand the kinks of our new homes. She could hold a good grudge, which I enjoyed (as I was not on the receiving end of said grudge) and be very funny – and self-knowing – about it.

She was a wonderful cook and a great host. At the annual meeting of the ISA she could be relied upon to have found the best restaurants in town, booked them and then curated the groups to go. All this was done with understated good humor when others would have moaned about the chore.

Chandra made some brave career decisions, prioritizing happiness over prestige and I admire her for that. I also admire her for being a great pioneer, institution builder, money raiser and mentor. Most of all I admire her for remaining nice when others would not have.

The last couple of years were tough for Cha, and she had begun to worry a lot more: about her Mom, about her visa in Brexit Britain, about her institutional position, about a crazy student and lack of support in dealing with said crazy student. I wish it had been easier for her as I think it took a toll.

It will be very strange being in London in November without seeing her. I am heart-sick, but will try to sooth myself by raising a cocktail to her (but not a Dirty Martini)

Jo Spear

Africa Spectrum

Source: https://journals.sub.uni-hamburg.de/giga/afsp/announcement/view/27

In memoriam: Chandra Lekha Sriram

The editorial team and staff of Africa Spectrum were shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of our highly esteemed author Chandra Lekha Sriram. She was Professor of International Law and International Relations at the University of East London, where she founded and directed the Centre on Human Rights in Conflict. Chandra Lekha Sriram received her PhD in Politics from Princeton University in 2000, and her JD from the University of California-Berkeley in 1994.

Over the past decades, Chandra Lekha Sriram has been one of the most productive researchers in the field of peacebuilding and transitional justice. She authored and edited numerous books and articles on human rights, transitional and international criminal justice, conflict resolution, conflict prevention, and peacebuilding. At Africa Spectrum, she published “The Perils of Power-Sharing: Africa and Beyond” together with Marie-Joëlle Zahar in 2009. It was part of a special issue on power sharing and has become one of the journal’s most cited pieces.

Chandra Lekha Sriram will be sadly missed and we send those who are grieving our deepest sympathies and regards.

Cathren Page/Cathy Oxner

First, I wish comfort to all those who are grieving Chandra. I wish there was something I could do or say, but Chandra’s loss leaves a profound hole in our lives.

This news has broken my heart. When we were three years old, Chandra was my first, best friend ever, and I fell in love with her the moment we met. We both lived in this ordinary, middle class neighborhood on the edge of Houston. The day we met she was wearing different colored socks and riding in a stroller. Here was someone who did things her own way and owned it. She was like no one I had ever met and remains so today.

I’m certain that she shaped my life and that much of the parts of my life that are good are the parts Chandra touched.

We played together every day. Her mom was a psychologist, and she bought Chandra a Free to Be You and Me Record that we listened to over and over. I begged for one too. Whatever society may have told us – when we danced and sang and listened to the stories in that record together – we were free to carve our paths, and Chandra did.

Chandra had a boy doll named Harvey, and one day we accidentally threw him over the fence into the neighboring apartment complex. The mission to find Harvey will always stick out in my memory.

Her dad had what seemed like an enormous Buddha statue in a room we called the Buddha Room. Her mom told us that we weren’t allowed in the Buddha Room. So of course, when no one was looking, we would run through it screaming, “Don’t go in the Buddha Room or the Buddha will Buddha you!”

Chandra was so smart. I was in awe of her. She knew how to draw stars when we were only four. After moving, I visited when we were five, and she already knew how to multiply and divide.

When I was five, my family moved to the country to rural Texas, in the most opposite possible cultural climate. I grieved the loss of her for over a year when we moved. I begged to go see her, but after a few years, we lost touch. This era was pre-Internet. So we lost that connection for decades.

In my late thirties, I discovered how to find people on the Internet. I spent decades missing my friend, and I wanted to find her. Right around that same time, I had left my litigation career to get an additional degree, an MFA, and was seeking professor positions. I looked up Chandra – she was a law professor!!! Two little girls from a regular middle class neighborhood parted ways when they were around seven, yet both became law professors.

I visited her in London when I was there for a conference, and we have written each other. We may have both been a little guarded at first, but we soon came to find how we were on the same wavelength in our thoughts regarding the legal academy as a whole. We had become an occasional but important support for each other during turbulent times in our world.

I know she was exploring leaving the U.K. on a fellowship. We had talked about getting together this summer when I am in Europe.

I wrote to her a few days ago because my summer plans in the EU had become more clear and because I wanted to share some Dr. Ford/Kavanaugh Op Eds I’d published. I expected we’d have another of our interesting and validating dialogues. She almost always writes back within twenty-four hours and that begins a short series of long emails back and forth.

I was troubled that she hadn’t written. Since it seemed unusual, I wondered if perhaps her address had changed. So I ran a quick search. My heart sank when I saw this news.

Yet I was comforted to see this tribute to Chandra. I learned things that we had not yet discussed – it turns out that we still have so many of the same loves, including Buffy.

She had such a promising future ahead of her still. It breaks my heart that the odds cut her future short. The world needs Chandra as we face increasing Human Rights threats. We lost one of our best.

I hope to hear from Carolyn – I’m unsure whether she remembers me. If possible, it also would mean a lot to me to remember Chandra with some of her friends this summer when I am in the EU. Please reach out if you can. Again, I’m sorry for everyone’s loss.

Cathren Page (Cathy Oxner from Holly Springs Street)

P.S. It would mean the world to me to remember Chandra with others, either via exchanging messages or in person. It would mean a lot to me to offer empathy and support to others. Since we were childhood friends, we had no mutual friends despite having taken similar life paths. I met some lovely people at her party in London but did not keep in touch.

I’m going to be in Europe this summer and perhaps we could meet in person. You can email me at work at ckoehlert@barry.edu. I’m happy to provide additional contact information upon receiving email messages.

John Idriss Lahai

Chandra’s passing has left a vacuum that cannot be filled. She was a towering figure, whose work on transitional justice and human rights, and her willingness to lend a helping hand, shaped my academic path. It was an honor to have known her, and we will truly miss her. 

John Idriss Lahai

Pål Wrange

Dear Colleagues,

I was shocked to read about Chandra’s death. We were in contact over the summer, when she very kindly gave me assistance and advice in compiling a bibliography on transitional justice. I will miss her sorely. And of course, it is a great loss for the community of scholars and practitioners in peace and justice and for the causes that she worked for.

Yours,

Pål Wrange