While it is often assumed that reconciliation culminates in the comprehensive resolution of conflict between deeply alienated parties, the article argues that reconciliation can only be achieved through complex mechanisms of estrangement that reveal alternative vistas or collective renewal. Art performs an important role in this process. The article theorizes estrangement as both an artistic and a political technique that can have world-disclosing, rather than alienating, effects on its audience: what Svetlana Boym calls estrangement for, rather than from, the world. I tease out the implications of this insight by examining the South African theater piece Ubu and the Truth Commission, which employs a number of estrangements devices in order to problematize the ambiguities and uncertainties of the post-Apartheid transition period. By subverting audience identification, yet triggering emotional contagion, the play imaginatively opens up the possibility of a common world in which agonistic relations are productively negotiated, rather than fully suppressed.
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