Source: (2000) Human Rights Working Papers 5 (April).

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission has become an international symbol for addressing a country’s violent past. It is often invoked as a model for other countries with traumatic histories. Hamber and Wilson identify and scrutinize a number of assumptions embedded in this view: that a nation has a collective identity; that nations have psyches that experience trauma similar to individuals; and that national processes of dealing with the past and individual processes are generally concurrent and equivalent. Drawing attention to a number of post-conflict societies, the authors raise significant questions about those assumptions and actions based on them.

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