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Dealing with a traumatic past: the victim hearings of the South African truth and reconciliation commission and their reconciliation discourse

(2009) CRITICAL DISCOURSE STUDIES. 6(4). p.297-309
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Abstract
In the final years of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century, there has been a worldwide tendency to approach conflict resolution from a restorative rather than from a retributive perspective. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), with its principle of 'amnesty for truth' was a turning point. Based on my discursive research of the TRC victim hearings, I would argue that it was on a discursive level in particular that the Truth Commission has exerted/is still exerting a long-lasting impact on South African society. In this article, three of these features will be highlighted and illustrated: firstly, the TRC provided a discursive forum for thousands of ordinary citizens. Secondly, by means of testimonies from apartheid victims and perpetrators, the TRC composed an officially recognised archive of the apartheid past. Thirdly, the reconciliation discourse created at the TRC victim hearings formed a template for talking about a traumatic past, and it opened up the debate on reconciliation. By discussing these three features and their social impact, it will become clear that the way in which the apartheid past was remembered at the victim hearings seemed to have been determined, not so much by political concerns, but mainly by social needs.

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Chicago
Verdoolaege, Annelies. 2009. “Dealing with a Traumatic Past: The Victim Hearings of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Their Reconciliation Discourse.” Critical Discourse Studies 6 (4): 297–309.
APA
Verdoolaege, A. (2009). Dealing with a traumatic past: the victim hearings of the South African truth and reconciliation commission and their reconciliation discourse. CRITICAL DISCOURSE STUDIES, 6(4), 297–309.
Vancouver
1.
Verdoolaege A. Dealing with a traumatic past: the victim hearings of the South African truth and reconciliation commission and their reconciliation discourse. CRITICAL DISCOURSE STUDIES. 2009;6(4):297–309.
MLA
Verdoolaege, Annelies. “Dealing with a Traumatic Past: The Victim Hearings of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Their Reconciliation Discourse.” CRITICAL DISCOURSE STUDIES 6.4 (2009): 297–309. Print.
@article{751220,
  abstract     = {In the final years of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century, there has been a worldwide tendency to approach conflict resolution from a restorative rather than from a retributive perspective. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), with its principle of 'amnesty for truth' was a turning point. Based on my discursive research of the TRC victim hearings, I would argue that it was on a discursive level in particular that the Truth Commission has exerted/is still exerting a long-lasting impact on South African society. In this article, three of these features will be highlighted and illustrated: firstly, the TRC provided a discursive forum for thousands of ordinary citizens. Secondly, by means of testimonies from apartheid victims and perpetrators, the TRC composed an officially recognised archive of the apartheid past. Thirdly, the reconciliation discourse created at the TRC victim hearings formed a template for talking about a traumatic past, and it opened up the debate on reconciliation. By discussing these three features and their social impact, it will become clear that the way in which the apartheid past was remembered at the victim hearings seemed to have been determined, not so much by political concerns, but mainly by social needs.},
  author       = {Verdoolaege, Annelies},
  issn         = {1740-5904},
  journal      = {CRITICAL DISCOURSE STUDIES},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {297--309},
  title        = {Dealing with a traumatic past: the victim hearings of the South African truth and reconciliation commission and their reconciliation discourse},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17405900903181135},
  volume       = {6},
  year         = {2009},
}

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