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Vol 21 No 9 Sept/Oct 2016

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Goode on Commercial Law

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The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa

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Richard A. WilsonUniversity of Sussex

ISBN13: 9780521001946
ISBN: 0521001943
Published: February 2001
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Paperback
Price: £29.99
Hardback edition , ISBN13 9780521802192

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The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up to deal with the human rights violations of apartheid during the years 1960-1994. However, as Wilson shows, the TRC's restorative justice approach to healing the nation 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. While a religious constituency largely embraced the commission's religious-redemptive language of reconciliation, Wilson 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. It ends on a call for more cautious and realistic expectations about what human rights institutions can achieve in democratizing countries.

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South Africa, Other Jurisdictions
1. Human rights and nation building
2. Technologies of the truth: the TRC's truth-making machine
3. The politics of truth and human rights
4. Reconciliation through truth?
5. Reconciliation in society: religious values and procedural loyalties
6. Vengeance, revenge and retribution
7. Reconciliation with a vengeance
8. Conclusions: human rights