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Accepted Paper:

Irreconciliation and responsibility  
Nayanika Mookherjee (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores the concept of Irreconciliation and its implicit demands for an ethics of responsibility.

Paper long abstract:

Conflict and Post-conflict situations are today marked by the urgency and need for forgiveness, apology, expression of ‘regret’ ‘remorse’ and reconciliation. Apologizing for past injustices has become a significant speech act (Mookherjee et al 2009; 2019). Following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the post-apartheid period in South Africa in 1994, debates on reconciliation have also had a particular currency in addressing violent pasts, seeking ‘closure’ and ‘moving forward’. The idea of ‘national reconciliation’ emerged from a particular set of historical and political experiences, namely the transitions to liberal democracy that occurred at the end of the Cold War (Wilson 2003: 368). Intrinsic to all these processes of reconciliation is the encouragement and imperative to forgive. In all these instances of reconciliatory and apologetic exercises it is thereby incumbent upon survivors to forgive, reconcile and seek closure as an exhibition of peacefulness. However, what are the instances of not saying sorry, not reconciling, remaining irreconciled? How does irreconciliation implicitly make the demand for an ethics of responsibility while at the same time becoming a tool of governance, nationalist discourse? Drawing from the Bangladesh war crimes tribunal and other ethnographic instances, I wish to make a theoretical and ethnographic case for Irreconciliation in this paper, as both a social and a political phenomenon, as a political stance, to think through the ideas and aspirations of justice embedded in it, as a concept in and of itself rather than through its opposition to peace.

Panel Mora06a
Retrospective regrets and contemporary apologies I
  Session 1 Monday 29 March, 2021, -