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“Narrating Political Reconciliation: Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa”

Moon, Claire
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) Social & Legal Studies. 15(2), 257–275

This article enquires into the narration of reconciliation in South Africa and its political
implications. It scrutinizes the subjects, objects and material practices that flow
from the reconciliation story. The investigation turns on two crucial assumptions: (a)
that discourse is an ideological system of meaning that constitutes and naturalizes the
subjects and objects of political life, and (b) that narrative is a special discursive form,
the structural features of which have specific political effects that are not illuminated
by a more general discourse analytic approach. A narrative perspective is important
because the TRC explicitly undertook the task of telling a story about South Africa’s
transition from past violence to future reconciliation, and argued that storytelling was
fundamental to catharsis, healing, and reconciliation on an individual and a national
level. Narrative theory renders more specifically applicable some of the general claims
of political discourse analysis; while the insights of political discourse analysis highlight
the political contexts and effects of governing narratives to which most narrative
theory, on its own, is blind. The combination of these two theoretical premises
furnishes a powerful approach to understanding the story about reconciliation told
by the TRC, and its political implications.


AbstractAfricaCourtsDiscovering TruthMeaning of JusticePolicePost-Conflict ReconciliationPrisonsRJ in SchoolsRJ OfficeStatutes and LegislationVictim Support
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