How do countries rebuild after war? How does a society recover after genocide? Is it healthy for atrocities to be forgotten?

These are the types of questions that Suffolk philosophy professor Nir Eisikovits and alumnus Jack Volpe Rotondi MS ’14 tackle in their new book, Theorizing Transitional Justice (Ashgate, 2015).

The book is a compilation of essays on the topic of transitional justice. This relatively young field examines the moral, political, and legal dilemmas that arise in trying to build democracy after war. Eisikovits and Rotondi co-edited the collection, along with Claudio Corradetti of the University of Oslo, Norway.

The idea for the book was born when the two were working on a paper together during Rotondi’s time as a graduate student in Suffolk’s Ethics & Public Policy (EPP) graduate program. Eisikovits, who directs the EPP program, focuses his research and scholarship on how countries emerge from war and come to terms with their past. While collaborating with Rotondi on a paper about the effects of countries who do not deal with the past after war, Eisikovits found that a thorough publication of scholarship on transitional justice was lacking in the field.

“This is the first comprehensive book about the theory of transitional justice,” Eisikovits said. “Most importantly, it offers guidance for nongovernmental organization leaders and political leaders who set up policies for development and reconciliation after war. It will also serve as a resource for law, history, philosophy, and politics scholars and students.”

The collection contains essays written by some of the most prominent scholars in the field, as well as young, emerging researchers. Topics range from post-genocide Rwanda to treatment of indigenous populations in Australia and New Zealand to South Africa after the end of apartheid. Some of the essays address more theoretical questions, examining the role of the arts after war or whether it is always necessary to account for past wrongs.

In addition to collecting and editing the submissions for the book, Eisikovits and Rotondi also contributed a chapter of their own on the possibility of officially sanctioned forgetting after war.

When Eisikovits and Rotondi started working on the book in 2011, Rotondi was a graduate student in Ethics & Public Policy. “I was most excited to study ethics and philosophy and how to put those ideas into practice in the modern world,” he said. “Through the program, Nir became my friend and a stellar mentor. I can’t say enough about him as a human being and it is amazing to be able to call him a colleague now.”

Today, Rotondi applies that knowledge as the Vice President, Organizational Operations of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, a nonprofit organization that forms partnerships with health and human service agencies to help better their communities.

Undergraduate and graduate students alike often work alongside faculty or assist with research, but it is rare for professor and student to publish a book together as peers. Eisikovits lauds Rotondi’s contributions to the editing of the collection.

“I am really proud of the equal role that Jack played in producing the book,” Eisikovits said. “He did an amazing job working on our article as well as coordinating the work of the other scholars involved in the project.”