This special issue is dedicated to Chandra Lekha Sriram – a mentor, colleague, and friend – who was to participate in this project but passed away suddenly several months before the workshop. The dilemmas explored in this special issue were central themes in her body of work, which has left a profound imprint on the fields of peacebuilding and transitional justice. Her friendship, academic brilliance, and presence are greatly missed.
—Adam Kochanski and Joanna R. Quinn, “Letting the state off the hook? Dilemmas of holding the state to account in times of transition”, Peacebuilding, vol. 9, no. 2 (2021): 103-113.
To Chandra Lekha Sriram
At this time of year, my thoughts turn to Chandra and to her many friends and family. I never took the time to express my condolences and to share in the celebration of her life. When I first heard the news, I was in the middle of fieldwork in Africa and the shock of her passing took a long time to shift into a more useful form of grief. But I now remember her more gently, not just a visceral, heartbroken feeling that she was gone too soon. Her memory really is a blessing. Chandra was, as everyone has expressed, a remarkable human being. I met her when we were both at the then International Peace Academy (now Institute), in the 2000s. She stood out as a shining example of how to do valuable and original research on conflict prevention, peacebuilding, human rights and justice within our international policy context. Watching her, reading her, I learned much about evaluating transitional justice, and the interconnections that might be possible across disciplines and fields. I loved her reliable, relentless rigor, her sharp wit and her laugh, the people she befriended, her excellent taste in food, the way she wore black. Well over a decade later, after losing touch and living on different continents, Chandra agreed to be the faculty examiner of my doctoral dissertation at Uppsala University. Her engagement with my thesis seemed remarkably well-suited. She had an important perspective on what I had tried to accomplish, where I had triumphed and where it didn’t quite work out. She was a funny, clever, kind companion during an exhausting day (and during the long evening’s familial-collegial revelry). And still now, I’m often reminded of Chandra. Her work impacts upon how we operationalize concepts of international law and political science in the study of justice. An inspirational mentor, ‘Chandra style’ infuses the way I teach and engage students. Her writing about ethics remains integral to understanding the dilemmas we all face when we study conflict and its aftermaths. Colleagues at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, still rely upon her research and share in the memorialization of her scholarship. Indeed, Chandra’s legacy will continue to inspire our collective efforts to understand, and to build peace in a troubled world.
—Angela Muvumba Sellström
Uppsala University, Department of Peace and Conflict Research
From a new edited volume, International Law and Transitional Governance:
Finally, we would like to express our profound gratitude for the role played by Chandra Lekha Sriram. Chandra was one of the driving forces behind our collective project on “International Law and Transitional Governance.” She helped us shape the project from the outset, presented a paper in the Florence expert seminar in 2015, and gave feedback to other contributors. Sadly, Chandra passed away during the making of this volume. We considered her a close colleague and a generous mentor. It is a terrible loss for those who knew her and for the discipline she contributed so much to. She will be tremendously missed. She is the reason why we are publishing the volume with Routledge in the Series “Law, Conflict and International Relations,” of which she was the series editor. To honor her and her legacy, we dedicate this volume to her.
—Emmanuel H. D. De Groof and Micha Wiebuschn, eds. International Law and Transitional Governance: Critical Perspectivess. Routledge, 2020.
Next week, 27 May, is the day Chandra would have turned 49. She’s often been in my mind in the past 1.5 years and even more so in recent days with her birthday coming up. In previous years this would always have been an opportunity to touch base with her. Not that an occasion would ever be required to connect with Chandra – it’s just that our contact was irregular, ranging from the very frequent to months going by before we reconnected again. There were several times in the year that contact was a given – her birthday being one of them and the 4x per year I travelled to London for meetings.
It’s hard to believe that so much time has gone by since she passed away. After meeting professionally in New York in the late 1990s/early 2000s, we gradually became friends – bonding over shared interests, good food, brilliant wine. Even so I looked up to her and benefited from her support and encouragement when I moved from my practitioner world into the world of academia where she was so firmly and rightfully established – and from where she so firmly and usefully linked to policy and practice. She brought so much to the world – passion, humanity, such sharp thinking, innovative ideas, willingness to ask difficult questions, humor.
I miss you, Chandra. There are so many times I wish I could bounce something off you, briefly check in, pick your brain, hear what you’re up to, see if we can concoct a joint effort. My trips to London are tinged with some sadness these days as I know I won’t be able to hang out with you anymore. It was a terrible shock to lose you so suddenly in September 2018 and you continue to live in my heart, mind and bookcase for as long as I am around.
From a new edited volume on transitional justice:
This volume is dedicated to our friend and colleague Chandra Lekha Sriram, who passed away in the middle of this project. Her work informed so much of the field. She is missed.
—Samar El-Masri, Tammy Lambert and Joanna R. Quinn, eds. Transitional Justice in Comparative Perspective: Preconditions for Success. Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.
London Transitional Justice Network Event
In Memoriam: Chandra Lekha Sriram
Date/Time: Tuesday, 22 October, 18:30-20:00
Venue: 32L.G.03, 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London School of Economics
Speakers: Julie Broome, Rachel Kerr, Olga Martin-Ortega, Ruti Teitel, Ralph Wilde
Chair: Iavor Rangelov
This event will remember the life and work of Chandra Lekha Sriram (1971-2018) and discuss her contributions to the study and practice of human rights, international law, transitional justice and peacebuilding.
- Julie Broome is Director of the Ariadne Network of European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights.
- Rachel Kerr is Reader in International Relations and Contemporary War at King’s College London.
- Olga Martin-Ortega is Professor of Public International Law at Greenwich University.
- Ruti Teitel is the Ernst C. Stiefel Professor of Comparative Law at New York Law School.
- Ralph Wilde is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Laws, University College London.
- Iavor Rangelov is Research Fellow at the Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit, London School of Economics.
LSE campus map: https://www.lse.ac.uk/lse-information/Campus-Map
Stephanie, Mira, and Michael came up with the idea to remember Chandra through her fabulous cooking and hospitality. So Steph sent out this email:
Dear foodie friends of (La)Chandra,
We are all grieving right now. It’s hard to know what to do. But cooking some of Cha’s favorite foods feels right. And it also feels right to share recipes with one another.
Mira, Michael (aka Phoophey), and I would like to create a cookbook of Chandra’s signature recipes to share. As friends who enjoyed her extraordinarily generous hospitality and culinary sophistication, we’d like to preserve the dishes, menus, and photos that remind us of the outrageous dinners we shared over the years in many different cities.
Mira has volunteered to collate and assemble the cookbook for self-publication: please email her the distinctive recipes that remind you most of Chandra with appropriate bibliographic citation if published (or links if your recipe is available online) with a few lines about why this recipe reminds you of Chandra. When did you cook this dish together? What country? Who else was there?
Some of us enjoyed her glamorous table without being cooks ourselves. Please feel free to send any dining-themed photographs with Chandra, including the date (if known), a description of the occasion or a remembrance of your friendship with Chandra.
Chandra Cooks (2019) is the result of the collaboration and photos from friends and family. A complete preview of the cookbook is available here in PDF format. If you’d like to order a hard-bound copy of your own, please follow this link. (If you do not have a Shutterfly account, the site will prompt you to create one.)
We hope you will feel Chandra’s presence through her words and recipes, and the memories and photos from all the friends she gathered.
I knew Chandra originally as a graduate student at Princeton where I worked with her as she completed an imaginative and innovative dissertation. I always thought of Chandra as young, emergent, dedicated, energetic, warm, and compassionate, a true and genuine champion of human rights. We only met briefly in recent years, and I always believed that soon she would be deservedly globally recognized as a distinguished scholar of human rights and a person who could lead and organize likeminded others.
In fact, a couple of years ago, our last real contact, I brought stress and distress into Chrandra’s life, of course, unintentionally. She had invited me to do a lecture at the University of East London, I agreed, but higher powers intervened and the lecture was cancelled due to exaggerated administrative fears of disruption. We were both disappointed, and Chandra remained determined to make it happen, and it is my sadness that because of logistical problems, mainly on my side, it never did. No one anticipated this untimely early death, and had I done so, I would made these problems disappear overnight.
We are right to grieve the loss of anyone with a warm heart, clear head, and compassionate spirit. Chandra was such a person. I grieve her death with sadness while remembering the joy and meaning that she brought to life.
In honour of Chandra Sriram’s
lifetime work on peace and justice, the Dialogue Advisory Group (DAG) is
hosting Adriana Rincón Villegas for a one month fellowship in its office in
Amsterdam. Adriana is a doctoral candidate in Global Governance & Human
Security at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston and a Visiting
Fellow of the Latin American Research Centre at the University of Calgary.
Adriana is currently
completing her dissertation, “The Gender of Peace: Law, Discourse, and Power
in Colombia” in the Department of Global Governance and Human Security at
UMass, Boston. A native of Colombia, Adriana aims to identify the gender
assumptions, roles, and identities embedded in the language of three
institutional peace notions in Colombia: peace as national security
(1958-1982), peace as a constitutional right (1991) and territorial peace
(2016). Drawing from de-colonial feminism, critical approaches to law, and
critical peace studies, and influenced by Sriram, Adriana’s work addresses the
contested, contradictory, and disparate meanings of peace, and the gendered
assumptions embedded in them.
As the Chandra Sriram Early
Career Fellow, Adriana will partake in the upcoming Amsterdam Dialogue
conference. The Amsterdam Dialogue is a high-level conference on peace and
justice in situations of violent conflict. Organised by DAG in partnership with
Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group, the conference brings
together peace mediators, human rights advocates and senior officials,
including the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Bringing together
mediators and human rights advocates provides participants with a closed-door forum
to bridge differences, deepen understanding, and strengthen cooperation on
peace and justice issues. Adriana will have the opportunity to engage with
high-level participants working in peace and justice issues across the globe.
Following the conference, Adriana will support DAG in assessing the outcomes of
the conference and compiling an analytical report on the substance of the
For more information about DAG or the Amsterdam Dialogue
please visit our websites:
I was not terribly close with Chandra, but I missed her this week at ISA and the panel prompted me to reflect more upon our relationship.
Her scholarship was first rate. She was sharp of intellect and of wit, so, when there was a need for someone to join a project who would challenge assumptions and methods, she was the first to come to mind.
I’ve known her for at least a decade; I actually don’t recall when or how we first met. As a young scholar, I found her quite intimidating. One of my earliest memories is many years ago when we had a conversation on a minibus in Bergen. We talked about book publishing and our research. I still remember feeling like her genuine interest in my perspectives was a sign that I belonged in academia.
Over the ensuing years, we were involved on a few larger research projects together over the years. I was invited to a couple of her ISA dinners. She was a great mentor, offering advice and to write letters of support. These were characteristic of her generosity of spirit.
We spent the most time together in the last two years of her life as part of the Justice, Conflict and Development Network. I wish I had been able to enjoy her friendship for longer, but I’m grateful for the time I had.
After almost 6 months, I still don’t feel ready to write
this, because I find it so hard to believe Chandra is gone. While we met
because of the human rights scholarly community, most of the bases on which our
friendship grew were unrelated to scholarship. In fact, Chandra was passionate and knowledgeable on so many
fronts that when introducing her to friends I would sometimes forget for a
moment how we met!
I was particularly in awe of her ability to hold people
(including me) accountable and show them deep love at the same time.
Just as ISA feels odd without a Chandra-initiated outing,
it will be a long time before I can be in London without the impulse to text
her, knowing she will plot a devastatingly fabulous adventure somewhere I never
would have found myself, and that we’ll pick up on every front as though no
time had passed.
My acquaintance with Chandra felt like being befriended by a force of nature. She expanded my sense of what was possible on countless fronts, and for that I will be forever thankful.
When: Thursday, March 28, 1:45 PM – 3:30 PM
Where:Churchill, Sheraton Centre Toronto
Chandra Sriram Memorial Panel
- Chair: Dave Benjamin (University of Bridgeport)
- Participant: Mark A. Drumbl (Washington and Lee University)
- Participant: Alison Brysk (University of California Santa Barbara)
- Participant: Kurt Mills (University of Dundee)
- Participant: Olga Martin-Ortega (University of East London)
I didn’t know Chandra well. Our paths crossed briefly in the early 2000s – the first time I saw her, she was walking into Princeton’s Firestone Library, like some kind of apparition. She was so… THERE, if you know what I mean. We had common friends, and I came to frequent the house she was living in at the time, in Brooklyn. I remember sitting in the kitchen, leafing through a book about NY while she was preparing one of her fabulous dinners. I remember having drinks at… was it Jacques Brasserie, off Third Ave? I think it was. Memories are fickle things. She had her own mythology – the way she talked about strangers on the subway… it was hilarious. No, we certainly weren’t friends; I suspect she didn’t like me very much. I’m shaken by her death, I truly am. Maybe it’s a selfish thing, I don’t know – maybe it’s just my own nostalgia, since those were good times. But even so, are there “good” and “bad” reasons to think of someone? I’m thinking of her, and I’m sad. I know she was there, and she had an impact on my life, no matter how small. Now she’s gone, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
I am a current junior at Bard College at Simon’s Rock and focus my studies on international human rights law. I recently realized that I had several texts on the subject that Dr. Sriram had written. After googling her I was surprised to find that she had also attended SRC and studied the same thing. Based on the website and her writings she sounds like an incredible person. Her work has really inspired me.
I’m not sure if this qualifies as a testimonial since I never met her, but her work has had its impact, in a serendipitous way too.
Thank you for maintaining this website,
It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Professor Chandra Sriram.
She first joined UEL in 2005 as Professor of Human Rights at UEL School of Law, having completed her doctorate from Princeton University and having taught at St Andrews University. In 2006, she set up the Centre on Human Rights in Conflict (CHRC), which she directed with great dynamism, making UEL a centre of excellence in the field of Human Rights and Transitional Justice. She left the University in 2010 to join SOAS School of Law, returning to UEL in 2013 as Professor of International Law and International Relations.
Through the CHRC, Professor Sriram was involved in many projects on transitional justice around the world, including important contributions in Sierra Leone, Kenya, Sudan, Colombia and Sri Lanka. These included major projects funded by the European Union, ESRC, British Academy and the US Institute for Peace.
Professor Sriram published widely in the field of conflict resolution and transitional justice, authoring or editing some ten books, including a significant monograph on “Peace as Governance: Power-Sharing, Armed Groups and Contemporary Peace Negotiations” (Palgrave, 2008).
At UEL, she developed LLM Courses such as War and Human Rights and supervised numerous PhD students. Her presence at UEL attracted many prominent Human Rights scholars, activists and experts to the University as members of staff, as guest speakers and as research collaborators.
Her international outlook and commitment to Human Rights research made a profound impact on those around her and on the university in general. Her unexpected death at a young age is a great loss of a close colleague and an excellent scholar.
In memoriam: Chandra Lekha Sriram
10 October 2018
SOAS School of Law is saddened by the news of the sudden passing away of Professor Chandra Lekha Sriram. Chandra joined SOAS School of Law in 2011 before returning to the University of East London in 2013. Chandra was an energetic and gifted scholar whose interdisciplinary work on peace-building, transitional justice, international criminal law, and human rights is widely recognised. She leaves a rich legacy and we remember her fondly as a highly dedicated colleague who was passionate about her work. During her brief time at SOAS, Chandra was awarded a three-year ESRC grant to work on transitional justice and democratic institution building. She made a number of contributions to our research culture – we continue to produce the School of Law Research Newsletter which Chandra began and our now established annual PhD Colloquium has its roots in the doctoral research seminar series that she introduced. Chandra also encouraged her colleagues to form research development groups for the mutual discussion of our research. After she left she continued to supervise the work of one of our PhD students, Demetra Loizou. We offer our condolences to Chandra’s family members.
From 25-30 November 2018 we dedicated the OSCE ‘Transitional Justice Autumn School’ for young researchers in Tirana, Albania, in memoriam to Chandra.
Chandra and I had been jointly designing this seminar over the summer and she was very enthusiastic about it, as with all the work she liked to do in the area of Transitional Justice.
We all missed her, I missed her… but her spirit and ideas for this School have been with us during the whole week. This is to you, Chandra!
Greetings from all of us & Anja Mihr
The Human Rights Section of ISA invites applications for the first annual Chandra Sriram Human Rights Section Global South Travel Grant. This is a competitive grant based on merit and need intended to assist scholars with accepted papers at ISA 2019 with expenses related to attending the convention in Toronto. Applicants must be members of the Human Rights Section and be working or studying at an academic or policy institution in the Global South. We define “Global South” as defined by the ISA Global South Caucus Charter, Art. 4, section 5ai, which includes: Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Africa, the Middle East/North Africa and developing Eurasia.
We welcome applications from students, faculty and practitioners. We particularly welcome applications from graduate students and/or early career scholars. The selection committee reserves the right to award more than one grant in a given year, or not to award a grant if no suitable applications are received.
To apply please submit the following as a single pdf attachment:
- Name, title, institutional affiliation and contact information
- Accepted abstract for ISA 2019
- 300 word statement addressing the following:
- How will this award enhance your research or career trajectory?
- Have you applied for an ISA Travel Grant?
- Describe your efforts to secure support from your home institution and external grant support
- Indicate how much financial support you are requesting (up to a maximum of $500)
Incomplete applications will not be considered.
All application materials should be e-mailed in one file directly to the chair of the Grant Committee, Dr. Bethany Barratt, before midnight Eastern time on December 10, 2018. The committee will make its decision as soon as possible and the awardee will be informed of their award on or before January 30, 2018.
This weekend a number of us gathered in London to celebrate Chandra. There was a poignant boat ride to scatter her ashes, which others can talk about, and a gathering of celebration on Sunday. As we are all list-consumers nowadays, here is mine from that event:
- Carolyn (aka Cha Mommy) was amazing
Now we know where Chandra got her strength from. Carolyn was brave, cheerful, charming and funny. What a role model! And she wears a sparkle well!
- Chandra’s friends/family all loved her with a passion
Chandra had a big impact on us all – from expanding our food palates to guiding our approaches to Research Ethics to showing us how to be a good mentor. She taught by example across the span of her activities. Funnily enough though, no one said they had been influenced by her distinct fashion choices…
- Chandra seems to have been mellowing
Despite her loudly and oft stated dislike of children, she was bringing presents for the kids of her dear friends and even agreeing to be in the same room as their progeny. This was a shocker!
- I have never been to a life celebration featuring a Drag Queen act before
This was probably true for most everyone in the room (please tell us more if that was not the case…) Watching Johnny Woo – knowing that Chandra appreciated her so much – was a real treat! And she worked the room so well, supported Carolyn, made us all laugh, and got everyone dancing. A Class Act.
- The celebration drew lovely friends from far and wide – Singapore, America, Continental Europe and elsewhere
What an international gathering we were! Others who could not make it sent messages or were acknowledged. We all made new friends that night; and connected some gossip!!
- The friends who organized the evening were amazing
They knew what Chandra deserved and we all needed and gave us the space to laugh, cry, remember, understand. They deserve our profound thanks.
- As we are in an age of (millennial) self-realization…
I admit I can never be as fine a person as Chandra (or wear heels as high as Johnny Woo). We are all both broken and comforted by the celebration of Chandra’s too-short life.
I first met Chandra in October 2010, on our first day as new members of staff at SOAS, University of London – together with Amanda Perry-Kessaris. The three of us immediately bonded over the slightly haphazard induction to a new workplace, and Chandra continued to provide droll commentary on the ups and downs of working at SOAS. She was a firm and principled colleague – and a great companion to share cocktails with. Reading the other testimonials reinforces my sense of Chandra’s capacity for deep and sustained friendships, and also how committed she was to supporting – and bringing the best out in – others’ research.
Amanda and I have had an exotic cocktail in Chandra’s honour and memory, which we hope she would approve.
Chandra was one of the most giving people I ever worked with – always keen to read a draft, organise a panel, involve you in a grant application, assemble an edited collection – thankless roles that benefited others. She was generous and gregarious – always in the thick of the action (long after the conference had ended and the real conversations started in some dingy bar in Nairobi, Sarajevo or east London). Her warmth and zest and love of community will be massively missed.
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.
The Editorial Board of Peacebuilding is very saddened by the passing of Chandra Lekha Sriram. Chandra was a much valued colleague, contributor, and friend to many of us and always impressed with her academic brilliance. She will be greatly missed professionally and personally.
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.
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.