Source: (2004) International Journal for the Semiotics of Law/Revue Internationale de Semiotique Juidique. 13 pp.

Since South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), ‘reconciliation’ is now an authoritative discourse governing political transition. Reconciliation governs the ‘moral reordering’ of national communities in the wake of conflict and transition to more democratic regimes by enquiring into, and attempting to address, past gross violations of human rights perpetrated, in the main, against civilian populations by the state and its agents. Reconciliation eschews retributive justice in favour of ‘restorative’ modes of ‘dealing with the past’, and has come, broadly, to be institutionalised by the truth commission. South Africa’s TRC animated theological discourses of forgiveness and Christian reconciliation in order to legitimise and endow with moral resonance the project of transitional justice. This article enquires into the political effects of such an animation, and investigates the performance of forgiveness and reconciliation as metaphor and narrative. Author's abstract.