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Apathy and Accountability: South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Rose, Jacqueline
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Raritan. 21(4):175-195.

As part of its mandate, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) could grant amnesty for acts of violence and injustice if the perpetrators disclosed the truth of their deeds. During the tenure of the TRC, a South African Indian woman applied for amnesty for what she described as her “apathy.â€? Because of conditions stipulated for acts accountable within the scope of amnesty, the TRC did not grant her request. In this context, Jacqueline Rose explores apathy in relation to accountability, both in the South African context and the larger world context. She argues that this woman’s confession of apathy may point to the truth that what a person does not do as a political subject may have real effects, and that apathy may be as important in the events and transformations of the world as what a person actually does.


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