About the event

In this symposium we interrogate the ‘reconciliation project’ in South Africa that has become embedded in the trope of the exceptional miracle and highlight the prospects and problematics of reconciliation. The symposium addresses three related arguments. We first explore forgiveness and reconciliation as a fluid discourse that has served varied socio-political functions across historical periods. Second, we examine the limitations of forgiveness and its circular impossibility, as the injunction to forgive calls on us to forgive that which is unforgiveable in the Derridean sense. Third, we argue that in the absence of social repair and with growing inequality, the historical and collective trauma of apartheid violence is drawn upon as a psychological and socio-political resource. The symposium concludes with a commentary on reconciliation as a discourse that is implicated in the constitution of relations of power, both at the level of its reproduction and resistance in South African life.

Cosponsored by Critical Psychology Cluster (PhD Programs in Critical Social/Personality Psychology and Environmental Psychology); PhD Programs in Psychology, Sociology, and Geography; Africana Studies; The Center for Place, Culture, and Politics; Committee on Globalization and Social Change; The Public Science Project; The Center for Human Environments