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Ritual and the Politics of Reconciliation.

Ross, Marc Howard
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov, ed., From conflict resolution to reconciliation. New York: Oxford University Press. Pp. 197-224.

This chapter focuses on questions surrounding the political import of reconciliation, with attention to the use of symbol and ritual. Marc Howard Ross first explains a common ambivalence toward the concept of reconciliation in the political science and international relations fields. He conveys a balance of interest and identity approaches, such that reconciliation generally involves a mix of the instrumental and the moral. The discussion covers key questions, starting with the meaning and goals of reconciliation, and who the parties are. Is reconciliation necessary in the peacemaking process? What does it look like, and what does it require? After considering some examples of apology and forgiveness, reparations and acknowledgment, the author focuses on symbolic and ritual actions. Examples refer to the significance of sacred sites as in Sri Lanka, and public cultural expressions such as parades in Northern Ireland. The need for inclusive practices is further considered in common cases of cultural disputes over holidays and language.


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