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Reconciliation and Revenge in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Wilson, Richard A
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) Current Anthropology. 41(1): 75-98.

Human rights are a central element in the new governmental projects in the new South Africa, and this article traces some of the specific forms of connection and disconnection between notions of justice found in townships of the Vaal and rights discources as articulated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The introduction of human rights in porst-apartheid South Africa has had varied social effects. Religious values and human rights discourse have converged on the notion of reconciliaiton on the basis of shared value orientations and institutional structures. There are clear divergences, however, between human rights ideas and the notions of justice expressed in local lekgotla, or township courts, which emphasize punishment and retritbution. The article concludes that the plurality of legal orders in South Africa results not from systemic relations between law and society but from multiple forms of social action seeking to alter the diretion of social change in the area of justice within the context of the nation-building project of the post-apartheid state. Author’s abstract.


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