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Undoing the evils of the past: politics of reconciliation and remorse for colonial violence 
Sabine Mannitz (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt PRIF)
Katja Uusihakala (University of Helsinki)
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Thursday 25 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

The panel focuses on endeavors for decolonizing societal relations, which were built on and continue to be shaped by colonial violence. It assesses reconciliation processes as attempts at undoing historical silences, exploring the ambivalence and selectivity of remorseful politics.

Long Abstract:

After decades of silencing the violence inherent to colonial histories and their lasting consequences – within settler colonial states or international relations – recent years have witnessed a proliferation of politics of remorse. Looted art, monuments and street names of colonial criminals, as well as euphemistic narratives of colonial history have become the subject of public debate. Truth commissions have been set up to uncover histories of dispossession, displacement, cultural oppression, enslavement, and mass killings that is colonization. Some leading politicians have apologized for past atrocities their countries account for, but other cases of colonial violence remain unsettled and sometimes subdued. Our panel aims to scrutinize what it means to confront and claim to undo the legacy of colonial domination. What would it entail in concrete social relations, in different political domains, and the legal system, to undo the past and repair relations based on justice and equality? Can decolonization be made to work as a process of unlearning the conventionally learned historical narratives and categories? Simultaneously, we ask what kind of selectivity and blindness the processes of reconciliation subsume. Whose voices become heard when silences are undone? How do apologies matter to those they target? How does remorseful politics acknowledge irreconciliation – the refusals of those wronged to “move on” in the face of continuing structural inequalities?

We welcome theoretical and ethnographic contributions to the above questions and further examinations of historical compensation, restitution, and recognition; decolonizing and anti-commemorative action; and analysis of refusals to apologize, or accept apology.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -