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Narrowing the Micro and Macro: A Psychological Perspective on Reparations in Societies in Transition

Hamber, Brandon
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In Pablo De Greiff, ed., The Handbook of Reparations. Oxford, New York, USA: Oxford University Press. Pp. 560-588.

“This paper focuses on the relationship between the individaul (micro) and the collective (macro) dimensions of reparations. It highlights the gaps and confluences between the two through focusing on symbolic reparations. It argues that massive reparations programs leave a disparity between the individual and the collective dimensions of reparations, i.e. between the needs of victims dealing with extreme trauma and the social and political needs of a transitional society. Through reparations the victim seeks some sort of reparation, i.e. a psychological state in which they feel adequate amends have been made. However, whether reparation at an individual level has taken palce is difficult to ascertain, if not impossible. The individual (psychological) and the collective (political) always stand in tension with one another when granting reparations. This dilemma is central to the reparations debate. The chapter argues that the gap between the micro and macro can be narrowed through a better understanding of the impact of extreme political trauma. It shows how steps can be taken at the social and political levels that can potentially increase the impact of reparations on individuals, i.e. through closer consideration of the nature and type of reparations offered, as well as the context, process, and discourses surrounding their delivery.” (excerpt)


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