CFP: Reconciliation & Transitional Justice (8/4/06; 11/10/06-11/11/06)

full name / name of organization: 
erik doxtader

An Interdisciplinary Symposium â€" Call for Papers

'Coming to Terms' with Reconciliation: Critical Perspectives on the Practice, Politics, and Ethics of Transitional Justice

10-11 November 2006

The University of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Ten years after the formation of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the idea and practice of reconciliation has moved from the margin to the center of international debate over how deeply divided countries can heal the wounds of atrocity, promote democratization, and (re)build civil society. For better or worse, reconciliation is now a global issue, one that has direct and controversial bearing on norms of international law, the promotion of human rights, and the delicate problem of how fractured societies can both recognize substantive identity claims and cultivate formal modes of citizenship.

At the same time, there appears to be little agreement over how to best define the process of reconciliation, explain its transformative power, or evaluate its formal and informal promotion. Along with continuing suspicion about reconciliation’s unrealistic promise, debate over these issues has been hampered both by a lack of interdisciplinary dialogue and a continuing gap between scholars and practitioners of reconciliation.

In the name of “coming to terms” with a difficult concept, this symposium aims to open a comparative and theoretically informed dialogue on the meaning, dynamics, and outcomes of reconciliation. Equally important, the symposium seeks provoke debate over how theory might be best used to develop and assess reconciliation’s practice. To approach these issues, the symposium invites papers that reflect on such questions as:

- What are the political, philosophical, and ethical commitments that ground the pursuit and promotion of reconciliation? In particular, what is the status of the reconciling subject and how does reconciliation bear on the formation of individual and collective identity?

- What cultural and historical factors enable and/or preclude reconciliation in deeply divided societies? How do reconciliation’s roots in religion and theology enable and limit its appeal? What are the risks associated with modeling formal reconciliation initiatives?

-How can we better understand and explain the process of reconciliation? What are the specific communicative, discursive, and rhetorical elements of reconciliation? Can the power of the word that inheres in reconciliation be presupposed in situations characterized by trauma and deep division? What does reconciliation do with history?

-Precisely how is reconciliation related to other central and frequently controversial elements of transitional justice, e.g. the concepts of truth, reparation, amnesty, forgiveness, retribution, accountability, restoration, memorialization, and economic redistribution?

-Does the idea of “political reconciliation” imply that reconciliation is a form or mode of politics? How might such a politics contribute to our understanding of democracy? Does reconciliation issue an important challenge to the tenets of democratic liberalism?

-How can formal and informal reconciliation initiatives be critically and fairly evaluated? What are the unexpected gains and hidden costs of attempts to promote reconciliation?

-What is the relationship between institutional, civil society, and local attempts to promote reconciliation?

A significant portion of the symposium will take plenary form and feature a series of invited addresses by leading scholars, practitioners, and critics of reconciliation. Confirmed speakers include:

- Charles Villa-Vicencio, Director of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Cape Town

- Philippe-Joseph Salazar, Distinguished Professor of Humane Letters, University of Cape Town

The symposium invites papers of 25-30 minutes in length on topics that engage with its thematic concern for the nature, dynamics, and outcomes of reconciliation. The symposium planners encourage proposals and papers that draw from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives, including anthropology, comparative literature, cultural studies, english, history, law, narrative and discourse analysis, performance studies, philosophy and rhetoric, peace and conflict studies, political theory and science, and religious studies.

Accepted submissions will be grouped into thematic panels composed of 2-3 presenters. A select number of slots have been reserved for papers delivered by advanced graduate students.

Abstracts (400-500 words) and questions about the symposium should be sent by email to:

Professor Erik Doxtader, Rhetoric Group, Department of Communication Arts


Abstracts must be received by 4 August 2006 and should include a cover page with the following information:

Name and affiliation
Email address
Physical Address
Telephone #
Submissions from graduate students should be marked as such.

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Received on Wed Jul 12 2006 - 16:30:43 EDT