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Reconciliation in Post-Commission South Africa: Thick and Thin Accounts of Solidarity.

Nagy, Rosemary
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue canadienne de science politique. 35(2): 323-346.

The meaning of reconciliation in South Africa remains ambiguous and contested.
A distinction is drawn between moral and political approaches to reconciliation
that invoke thick and thin accounts of solidarity. The discourses of forgiveness and healing
are ‘‘too thick’’ because they demand public coherence at the cost of private difference.
The promotion of deliberative democracy protects difference, but is ‘‘too thin’’ to
enable a substantial basis for reconciliation. Apology, as the fullest expression of ‘‘shared
history,’’ furnishes the moral transformation necessary for the democratic culture to take
root. In this model, reconciliation strikes a balance between solidarity and plurality. Author’s abstract.


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