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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Justice, silence, complexity: recent forays into the reconstitution of apartheid experience
Author:Wright, Timothy
Periodical:African Studies (ISSN 1469-2872)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:truth and reconciliation commissions
African studies
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020184.2017.1285673
Abstract:This review essay situates itself within the broad body of scholarship that has returned to South Africa's apartheid years in order to critique the assumptions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and raise once more the issue of justice. It surveys three studies from 2014 that examine apartheid-era experiences not dealt with in their full complexity by the TRC. These studies all emerge from different disciplines: Pamela Reynolds 'War in Worcester' from anthropology, Jacob Dlaminis 'Askari' from history, and Carrol Clarksons 'Drawing the line' from literature. In surveying these studies, the author sets forth an argument that the TRC, in its yoking of justice to a project of nation-building and catharsis, inadvertently engaged in its own forms of silencing in dealing with the past. This occurred partly due to the TRC's binary framework of victim and perpetrator, which failed to address those who were more than merely victims or those who were both victims and perpetrators. He moves through the texts in a sequence that begins with the two attempts to reconstitute complex forms of black experience elided by the TRC, and concludes with Carrol Clarksons 'Drawing the line', which he read as a way of thinking about a justice that aims to be open to moral complexity. Throughout, he pursues the question of whether there is a fundamental tension between the demands of justice and those of human complexity. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]