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Narrative and truth: a feminist critique of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Kashyap, Rina
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) Contemporary Justice Review. 12(4):449-467.

Prior to the establishment of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), ‘gender was seldom explicitly invoked as a lens into human rights abuse or an organizing principle for the commission’s work’ (Nesiah et al., 2006, p. 3). In this respect the TRC is a trailblazer, as subsequent truth commissions in other countries have been inspired to incorporate the gender component.

The study of the TRC, however, is relatively under-theorized from the feminist perspective. This article argues that the feminist perspective offers a nuanced scrutiny of narrative and truth, two major themes of the TRC. The feminist inquiry helps resurrect ‘listening’, as a crucial component of narratives. In addition, the value of the feminist perspective lies in its ability to throw light on the experience of both women and men and to create an argument and language for the articulation of the needs of the powerless and dispossessed in society. A feminist critique of truth and reconciliation commissions has the potential to make the transitional justice mechanism more inclusive and democratic. (excerpt)


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