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The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa
Legitimizing the Post-Apartheid State

$134.00 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Law and Society

  • Date Published: May 2001
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521802192

$ 134.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up to deal with the human rights violations of apartheid. However, the TRC's restorative justice approach did not always serve the needs of communities at a local level. Based on extended anthropological fieldwork, this book illustrates the impact of the TRC in urban African communities in Johannesburg. It argues that the TRC had little effect on popular ideas of justice as retribution. This provocative study deepens our understanding of post-apartheid South Africa and the use of human rights discourse.

    • Presents a fresh assessment of the work of the South African TRC
    • Evaluates the use of human rights discourse and the limits of human rights institutions in democratizing countries
    • Based on extensive anthropological fieldwork
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "It is impossible in this space to do justice to Wilson's subtle, complex and largely convincing book. Just about the best thing written on the TRC so far; it is deeply analytical yet broad in scope. Wilson offers us engaging chapters on the TRC's political life....This is a remarkable book." Journal of African History

    "This provocative study deepens our understanding of post-aparthied South Africa and the use of human rights discourse." The African Sun Times

    "Focusing on attitudes toward reconciliation, retribution, and vengeance, the author sees human rights in South Africa essentially as legal instruments that serve the purposes of compromise rather than the concept of justice....Wilson's analysis raises basic questions about the long-term efficacy of truth commissions and is useful for comparative purposes." Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2001
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521802192
    • length: 296 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • contains: 3 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of acronyms and glossary
    Preface and acknowledgements
    1. Human rights and nation-building
    Part I. Human Rights and Truth:
    2. Technologies of truth: the TRC's truth-making machine
    3. The politics of truth and human rights
    Part II. Reconciliation
    Retribution and Revenge:
    4. Reconciliation through truth?
    5. Reconciliation in society: religious values and procedural pragmatism
    6. Vengeance, revenge and retribution
    7. Reconciliation with a vengeance
    8. Conclusions: human rights, reconciliation and retribution

  • Author

    Richard A. Wilson, University of Sussex

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