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The Limits of Forgiveness in Political Reconciliation: The South African TRC. Edition No. 1
VDM Publishing House, May 2008, Pages: 84
The restorative remedy that Hannah Arendt proposed within the otherwise unpredictable realm of political life was the act of forgiveness. Arendt perceived forgiveness as an imported faculty, one that is not part of the political process itself. In a close look at the role that forgiveness played in the framework of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, this work contrasts this view with social views of forgiveness. What the South African case helps to show is that one cannot uncritically introduce forgiveness as a remedy for politics without a discussion of the various conflicts, necessary conventions and social conditions that such an ambitious prescription would demand. With the conditions that the act of forgiving demands on the interpersonal level and with the conditioning it undergoes when made part of an aggregate political process such as the construction of national unity, the struggle over forgiveness is part of the political process itself rather than an imported remedy.
Benjamin Nienass received his BA in European Studies from the University of Amsterdam and holds an MA from the Central European University in International Relations and an MA in Political Science from Leiden University. He is currently a PhD student in Political Theory at the New School for Social Research in New York.