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Shame, Guilt and Reconciliation after War.

Lu, Catherine
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) European Journal of Social Theory. 11(3):367-383.

How do experiences of shame and guilt shape or reflect the ways in which
the vanquished are reconciled (or not) to the new world order established
by the victors? Shame and guilt are universal experiences in the emotional
landscape of post-war politics, albeit for different reasons and with radically
different political effects. An examination of Germany after 1918 and of
Japan after 1945 reveals that experiences of shame and guilt may be pivotal
for creating conditions of possibility for reconciliation marked by political
and moral transformation. This transformative potential of shame and guilt,
however, is a double-edged sword. In threatening old identities, values and
beliefs, experiences of shame and guilt may provoke defensive, reactionary
and violent political responses, and thus may precipitate hideous rather than
salutary transformations. Political leadership and political culture are crucial
factors in shaping the kind of reconciliation – reactionary or transformative
– as well as the specific nature of transformations that experiences of shame
and guilt may motivate the vanquished to pursue. (author’s abstract)


AbstractPost-Conflict ReconciliationPrisonsRJ and the WorkplaceRJ in SchoolsRJ TheoryShamingStatutes and LegislationTeachers and Students
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