2012 Historical Justice and Memory Conference abstracts – 10-02-2012
Asvi Warman Adam
‘The Idea and the Failure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Indonesia’
This paper is about the processes leading to the idea of establishing a commission on truth and reconciliation in Indonesia: from discussions among NGOs after the downfall of the New Order, enactment of the law by the government and parliament, up to its revocation by the Constitutional Court. Why is the redrafting of the new law left pending by the government? What role does the president play in this development? How do the victims respond to current circumstances?
‘Iranian historical Memory and Trauma’
This paper explores the newly arrived Iranian diaspora’s collective memory of trauma and violence. It situates this trauma and violence in the context of the 1979 Iranian revolution and the ensuing oppression and violence that continue to permeate Iranian society. In particular it explores the collective subjectivities that this historical phenomena has given rise to and its relationship to the ongoing boat arrival of Iranian asylum seekers to Australia. The paper argues that Iranian experiences of trauma, not in a clinical sense, have created a new phenomena of escapees, exiles, asylum seekers, who are profoundly different from the generation of migrants and asylum seekers who left after the 1979 revolution. Indeed, in this paper l seek to situate the trauma, the social injuries and the narratives of suffering of the newly arrived Iranian diaspora in the poetry of Ahmad Shamloo (1925- 2000), who is recognized as one of the greatest modern Persian poets. I use Shamloo’s poetry as a lens to look into the nature of Iranian collective narratives about trauma and suffering to shed light on the perpetual fear and anxieties that dominate the selfhood of newly arrived Iranian diasporas. Shamloo’s poem: Man Darde Moshtarakam m-ra frayd Kon (I am the collective pain, scream me out) is a poignant reminder to many newly arrived Iranian diasporas of the enigmatic nature of their suffering and pain.
‘Revising the Nation: History and Historiography in the Ghana National Reconciliation Commission’
Over the past thirty years, the truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) has been frequently utilized within African transitional justice practice. Accordingly, the related assumption – that public historical review will ameliorate Africa’s social and political dilemmas – has become part of the continent’s institutional architecture. However, the path from public history-telling to national political transformation is often elusive; thus, the political import of a TRC’s individual testimonies may be opaque.
This paper, focused on the Ghana National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), places truth commission narratives within the framework of nationalist historiography. The author argues that by presenting a version of Ghanaian history focused on social disenfranchisement, economic exclusion, and political alienation, the NRC narratives constituted significant revisions of nationalist myths of origin and progress. The paper describes the broad cross-section of Ghanaians, including those on the outskirts of the assumed national community, who utilized the truth and reconciliation framework to insert their experiences into the national historiography. In this, this paper describes the practice of the Ghanaian NRC as a process that narratively expanded the boundaries of the national history. By exploring the historiographical significance of truth commission stories, this paper explores the ways that African truth and reconciliation commissions may revise and expand the borders of national community in times of state transition.
‘Unsettling Accounts: Brazil’s Reparations Program Through the Lens of Literary Fiction’
How might literary production contribute to larger processes of transitional justice? The proposed paper explores this question by examining the 2003 novel ^ (Proof to the Contrary) by Fernando Bonassi, published in the midst of Brazil's first major transitional justice initiative: a federal reparations commission established to award financial compensation to families of people killed or disappeared under military dictatorship (1964-1985). Through the fictional story of a woman who re-encounters her disappeared husband shortly after collecting a reparations payment for his disappearance and is presented with three contradictory explanations of his fate, Bonassi questions the means and ends of the real-life reparations commission. By analysing this novel and comparing it to similar works from Latin America (such as Ariel Dorfman's play Death and the Maiden), I argue that literature can help advance the goals of transitional justice.
‘Between Immanence and Transcendence: Truth Commissions’ Struggle for Truth and Memory’
This paper presents an analytical framework to situate truth commission narratives in the broader context of struggles for social memory. I argue that the historical context chapters in the commissions’ final reports reflect, to some extent, the explanatory schemes and memory tropes circulating in wider society, but they also often transform the terms of the societal debate. Truth commissions constantly renegotiate the tension between their authoritative status enabling them to produce the truth over the past, and the need to persuade those who question their truthfulness and overall legitimacy. The authoritative claim to truth seeks ways to accommodate the need for persuasion as the basis of commissions’ legitimacy, which drives many commissions to develop narrative strategies at the intersection of embeddedness and transformation with respect to the field of social memory.
I identify four different functions a truth commission may perform in relation to social memory struggles. Truth commissions adjudicate between contending positions by confirming or rejecting certain narratives and explanations that hold sway in public debates; at times, they simply avoid the contentious issue at hand; they give voice to memories and experiences that are systematically excluded from public debates; and finally, they transform the public debate by producing narratives and explanations that unsettle the terms of social engagement. A truth commission’s final report may combine some or all of these positions. Furthermore, I show that the conscious and unconscious exclusions of a truth commission narrative may be as constitutive of historiography as the written text.
Jennifer Balint, Tony Birch, Nesam McMillan, Julie Evans and Giordano Nanni
Round table: Minutes of Evidence
The Minutes of Evidence project is a partnership between ILBIJERRI Theatre Company, La Mama Theatre, the University of Melbourne, the Koorie Heritage Trust, VicHealth’s Arts About Us program, the Department of Education, Arts Victoria, Regional Arts Victoria, the State Library of Victoria, and the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc (VAEAI). It is a groundbreaking collaboration which brings together leading Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, researchers, education experts and Community members, and aims to encourage a shared understanding of the past and promote new modes of publicly engaging with historical and structural injustice.
At the heart of the collaboration lies a public performance, ^ Employing the technique of ‘verbatim theatre’, Coranderrk brings back to life the voices of Aboriginal and European men and women who, in 1881, appealed for justice by formally testifying before a Commission of Inquiry appointed by the Victorian Government to determine the fate of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve. Consisting entirely of extracts from the Inquiry’s official ‘Minutes of Evidence’, Coranderrk creates a public channel for a personal connection with the actual voices of the past, allowing key historical figures of Victoria – such as the Wurundjeri leader William Barak, and European figures such as Ann Bon, John Green and Edward Curr – to speak directly and clearly to a contemporary audience. Coranderrk: We Will Show the Country was presented at BMW Edge on the weekend preceding the conference, 11-12 February, as part of the Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival, and was performed at La Mama, Melbourne University, and on-Country at Healesville.
The project is interested in locating this episode of Victorian history in a broader narrative of historical and contemporary justice and injustice. Through an interdisciplinary and comparative methodology, it seeks to connect official responses to experiences and claims of injustice across time and space. This roundtable, involving academics and partners on the Minutes of Evidence project, will explore some preliminary questions relating to the project and its various components, such as the role of the performance as a vehicle for historical memory; the possibilities of creating new ‘meeting points’ (in public spaces, schools, and universities) to share memories and understandings of the nation’s past and present, and the ways in which the project might shed further light on the enduring legacies of past injustices, despite official responses ostensibly designed to redress them.
From Perpetrators to Victims? Allied Postwar Internment and German Memory’
At the end of the Second World War, the victorious Allies established internment camps in their zones of occupied Germany to detain tens of thousands of German civilians who were deemed responsible for the Nazi regime and/or a threat to the occupying forces. Former Nazi concentration camps or POW camps were not infrequently used for this purpose. Presenting the initial findings of a comparative project on the American, British and Soviet zones, the paper will explore, first, how Germans responded at the time to this aspect of the wider Allied program of post-Nazi ‘transitional justice’. It will ask, second, how early responses to and experiences of internment shaped subsequent social memories of internment and indeed of the wider phenomena of denazification and occupation of which internment was an important part. In particular, it will explore the extent to, and ways in which the ‘Nazis’ and ‘perpetrators’ in the camps came to be seen as ‘victims’ of Allied brutality, repression and ‘victor’s justice’.
‘The Impact of Magnitude of Harm and Perceived Difficulty of Making Reparations on Group-Based Guilt and Reparation Towards Victims of Historical Harm’
This study investigated how reading stories about past mistreatment of children who had been in institutional care affects support for reparations, perceived difficulty of reparations and group-based guilt. The victims are a specific group in Australia who were, as children, removed from their families and still suffer from the ongoing negative consequences of this practice. This group is called the Forgotten Australians and should not be confused with the Indigenous Australians who were removed from their families (the Stolen Generations) or the British children who were shipped to Australia. These groups have attracted much greater media coverage than the Forgotten Australians. It is not so much that the plight of these people was forgotten as that for most Australians they are simply unknown.
Perceived difficulty of reparations was manipulated which intended to weaken or strengthen the ability to make reparations. This study demonstrated stronger group-based guilt when reparations were potentially possible and not when they are impossible. Moreover, support for reparations varied as a function of perceived difficulty of reparations and group-based guilt mediated that relationship. The research has two key implications. First, advocates of reparations as a mechanism for reconciliation and community healing need to consider the degree to which reparations are perceived to be possible and consider ways of addressing those perceptions. Second, the research provides an experimental demonstration to the power of stories about experience to bolster support for social change.
‘Australian Asbestos Stories: Narrative as Justice’
The connection between storytelling and notions of justice is well documented, for example in the contexts of truth commissions, the Holocaust and – in Australia – the Stolen Generation. This paper will consider such notions of justice in relation to illness narrative, looking at the stories of two Australian women diagnosed with mesothelioma, the terminal cancer linked to asbestos exposure.
In considering the motivation of the two women to tell their ‘asbestos stories’, this paper will allude to theories including Hunsaker Hawkins’s ‘authorial intent’. In particular it will look at ‘ecopathography’, where a narrative connects an individual’s illness with environmental, political, or cultural issues – which is especially relevant given connections between asbestos-disease and the behaviour of corporations, trade unions and governments. The paper will also consider justice based on the ‘outcomes’ of illness storytelling, as discussed by Dyehouse, Bülow, and Carlick and Biley – who see illness narratives as empowering, allowing sufferers to reclaim their voices.
‘Two Decades of Mandatory Immigration Detention: Restoring Australia’s Human Rights Reputation’
Twenty years after the introduction of mandatory immigration detention in Australia, the adverse effects of asylum seeker detention are well known and robust critiques abound. Yet governments persist in maintaining mandatory detention as the major plank of border control and deterrence endeavours. To date little has been done to address justice questions beyond reparation for harm done to detainees. The paper draws on research that identifies human rights abuses that have harmed not only asylum seekers, but also those tasked with implementing policies including health professionals and neighbouring countries. The paper poses questions of how future generations will judge these two decades and how historical justice might now be enacted, particularly to restore Australia’s reputation as a rights-respecting nation.
‘Shaping Histories for the Future: The Waitangi Tribunal and the New Zealand Treaty Claims Process’
For the past three decades in Aotearoa New Zealand the Waitangi Tribunal has been recovering forgotten histories and memories, investigating claims by indigenous Maori that the Crown has consistently breached its obligations under the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. Over this time, the Tribunal has, through its published historical reports, been undertaking a painstaking re-examination of the long history of Maori–Crown relations. These historical narratives have frequently emphasized the theme of indigenous agency; key historical moments where indigenous peoples exerted power and shared in certain aspects of colonial enterprise and ambition. While at one level this approach promises to be liberating and empowering, it also tends to eclipse the damaging excesses of the colonial past and implicitly deny the continuation of cultural, social, political and economic inequalities into the present.
How then does a modern ‘truth commission’ like the Waitangi Tribunal influence and shape contemporary views of a contested colonial past? And why are certain historical acts, policies and practices, once considered commonplace and acceptable, now condemned and seen as unlawful, unjust and even immoral? This paper seeks to answer these questions through examining the public processes of apology and historical restitution currently underway in Aotearoa New Zealand. Drawing on the methodology of postcolonial critique, it considers how the notion of ‘historical amnesia’ has been determined and applied in the context of New Zealand. This paper therefore offers a fresh contribution to existing historical scholarship on colonialism, its aftermath and continuing legacies.
‘Dancing the Memory of Place: The Choreography of Identity in the Peruvian Andes’
This paper examines the non-verbal expression of dance as a site of memory and identity construction. I contend that the ‘traditional’ dance and fiestas of the Andes function as a form of ‘somatic memory’, through which the collective narrative of a community is remembered, reinforced and recreated. Exploring the case study of Carnavales Rurales in the Andean city of Ayacucho in 2010, this paper examines how those forced to leave their homelands due to the years of political violence now dance to embody ‘place’ and remember ‘the ancestors’.
Dancing in rural carnival is linked with notions of belonging, of ancestry, cultural inheritance, family connection, regional pride and identity. It is also a time when those perceived as, or who self identify as, campesinos (which literally translates as peasant, but is used to refer to people from rural Andean communities most of whom are indigenous Quechua speakers) have the opportunity to redress some of the inequalities and racism experienced in quotidian life. Rural migrants dance to maintain and ‘defend’ a uniquely campesino identity within the urban setting.
‘The Ethics of Nostalgia in Post-Apartheid South Africa’
The ethics of memory, for Eviatar Zerubaval and Paul Ricoeur, means remembering the past so as to build a better future. In post-apartheid South Africa, a wide variety of memory practices have been adopted so as to bring to the broader public reminders of the past, a past that must be remembered so that it will not be repeated. In addition to new history curricula in schools and the massive archive of public testimony generated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, there are also new museums, memorial gardens, public statuary and commemorative public holidays. There has also been an outpouring of life writing. In a country with a relatively small book buying public, astonishing numbers of biographies and even greater numbers of autobiographies are published each year. In general, these diverse efforts – the official, publicly funded commemorative initiatives as well as individual efforts to preserve personal memory – seek to shape collective memory in ways that invoke the horrors of the apartheid past. In this new democracy, the memory work seeks an accommodation of that troubled past in contemporary efforts to create an ethically defensible present and future.
But what are we to make of life writing, intended to be read by South Africans across the race and class spectrum, that recalls the apartheid past nostalgically? Can any case be made for construing such memory work, which recalls apartheid with fondness, as ethical remembering? In this paper I look at Jacob Dlamini’s Native Nostalgia, the recently published autobiographical account of Dlamini’s apartheid childhood.
‘The Desire for Justice: Discourses of Victimhood, Psychic Reparation, and the Politics of Memory in “Post-Conflict” Northern Ireland’
The 'desire for justice' is an expression commonly used to describe the demand for redress made by victims of violence within 'post-conflict' transition. This paper addresses the subjective and psychic aspects of this desire for justice, as these articulate with the politics of memory, discourses of victimhood, and questions of recognition, reparation and reconciliation in the Northern Ireland peace process. Extending the analysis in my book Making Peace with the Past? Memory, Trauma and the Irish Troubles (2007), the paper explores the ways in which psychic and emotional currents percolate into public discourse and politics, and how the traumatic effects of past violence affect the emotional dynamics of victims' involvement in truth and justice issues, in the context of devolved government and the controversies surrounding the work of the Eames/Bradley Consultation Group on the Past.
The paper develops a case study of the discourse of justice used by one grass-roots organisation, West Tyrone Voice, in campaigning for the victims of 'terrorist violence' during the Troubles. Drawing on WTV's publications, submissions to the CGP, letters to newspapers, and my interviews with members, the paper examines what justice means for the group and individuals, how others (perpetrators of violence; agents in the peace process) are represented in relation to this, and how the emotional structure of WTV discourse shapes its responses to the British Government's 'reconciliation' agenda. In this analysis, the paper draws on theories about the meaning of justice, its psychic roots and dynamics, developed within object-relations psychoanalysis (Steiner, 1996; Rayner, 1999; Young and Gibb, 2002). Emphasising the reciprocal effects of 'object relations' in the internal world and the experience of social relations with external others, these theories suggest the emotional basis of an ethics of justice involving mutuality and 'reparative remembering' (Dawson, 2007). They also enable insight into the emotional dynamics at work in the continuing 'war over memory' in Northern Ireland, centred on conflicting ideas about justice and how to achieve it.
‘Was That an Apology Mr Blair? An Analysis of Tony Blair’s Remembrance of the Potato Famine’
In June 1997, Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a statement expressing remorse for the British government’s inaction to assist the Irish during the potato famine of the late 1840s. Blair’s contrition was met with praise and criticism, but it proved to be part of the larger narrative in the peace negotiations within Northern Ireland. Although Blair’s ‘apology’ is often cited as an exemplar of political leaders apologizing for historical injustices, little actual scholarly work on this subject has been conducted. To that end, this paper examines Blair’s potato famine apology through the theory of collective apology. Jason Edwards argues that collective apologies serve to build, repair, renew, and strengthen bonds between communities harmed by historical wrongdoing. Moreover, collective apologies are meditations in collective memory about the past, present, and future relationship between communities. We assess Blair’s apology through this theoretical lens, considering whether Blair’s apology can be considered an apology. If so, what was the effect of the apology on the memory of the Irish potato famine and in Anglo-Irish reconciliation efforts? What, if any, is the legacy of this particular apology in British politics and reconciliation efforts in Northern Ireland? We attempt to answer these questions and more in our paper.
‘Your Search Found No Stories: Memory, History and Family Biography on Film’
Memory travels not only across time and history but also within families. The legacies of one generation are passed onto the following generation, tasking them with understanding and interpreting what may have not been possible to understand at the time. This is especially true for traumatic events (Diena, 2007).
My mother had a coherent family story and so I grew up knowing who was who, where everyone came from and how they fitted into the picture. My father’s story came in bits. The premature death of both his parents resulted in a childhood interrupted by trauma, poverty and migration. A childhood that would leave him without a resolved story but instead with vivid and fragmented ‘bits’ of memory. The desire to re-construct my father’s family story on film is an attempt to recover, understand and preserve a lost history.
An absence of evidence is commonly used to contest history. But the absence of evidence for the documentary filmmaker can be a space for inquiry. Film enables us to look and reflect upon an event. What role does the documentary film play in memory transmission aimed at uncovering past injustices? How can it contribute to the ways we negotiate, interpret and understand individual and social history, understand ourselves? (Waterson, 2007).
‘Forced Removals, Resettlement and the Politics of Memory in a South African Homeland’
Mass relocation was a cornerstone of apartheid policy in South Africa, affecting more than 3.5 million people in the years 1960–1980, and more thereafter. Nevertheless, experiences of forced removals and resettlement were never addressed at the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Instead, social narratives of these experiences have been consolidated around processes of post-apartheid Land Restitution and stories of the liberation struggle endorsed by nationalist organizations. Exploring the testimonies of people who were resettled in one of South Africa’s Bantustans, the Ciskei, during the 1960s and 1970s, this paper examines the politics of memory in the construction of social narratives of relocation. Such narratives have been employed in local political discourse, placing demands on the state to address the situation of poverty, unemployment and continued neglect that prevail in the resettlement townships. With attention to the different testimonies of those removed from urban areas, evicted farm workers and political prisoners banished to the Ciskei, it explores competing narratives of relocation and the attempts of individuals to reconcile their own experiences with these. Particularly significant are the ways that farm workers have understood their experiences. Telling stories that often depart radically from a ‘master narrative’ of forced removal, the experiences of resettled farm workers have been almost entirely marginalized from local and national memories of relocation. Such marginalization, the paper argues, has been detrimental to a robust conceptualization of the history of dispossession that underpins policy making around post-apartheid land reform.
‘Conflicting Memories: Waikato-Tainui’s Raupatu Treaty Settlement with the New Zealand Government’
In 1995 a Maori iwi (tribe), Waikato-Tainui, signed a Treaty settlement with the New Zealand government, which finally addressed the confiscation (raupatu) of 1.2 million acres of Waikato-Tainui land that took place following the British invasion of the region in 1863. While the return of land was the centre-piece of Waikato-Tainui’s approval of the settlement, the historical account and Royal apology from Queen Elizabeth II that were also included in the agreement played a major role in its acceptance by the Waikato-Tainui community. Both the historical account and the Royal apology were the products of intense historical debate and negotiation between Waikato-Tainui and the New Zealand government’s negotiators and advisors. This specific set of negotiations revealed the conflicting historical memories that had endured from both sides. This paper will explore some of the historical debates that ensued between Waikato-Tainui and the New Zealand government’s negotiators and advisors and the ways in which following settlement Waikato-Tainui continued to emphasize its own memories of the war and confiscation that engulfed the Waikato-Tainui region in the 1860s.
‘Taking Back the Symbolic Currency of Rebellion:‘Umar al-Mukhtar, Qadhafi, and the Libyan Uprising of 2011’
Libya’s experience of Italian colonialism (1911-1943) has played a defining role in how the events of 2011 are described by both sides, and will certainly shape the terms in which future demands for justice will be articulated. For example, Cyrenaicans’ immediate description of Qadhafi’s aerial attacks as ‘genocide’ appeared historically over-determined, given that Cyrenaica endured an Italian-perpetrated genocide – a term on which scholars, Libyans, and Italians agree – in the 1920s and early 1930s.
In addition to who will control Libya in the future, the symbolic capital pertaining to Cyrenaicans’ resistance to the Italian onslaught is at stake. The rebels have re-appropriated the emblems in which the regime has cloaked itself for decades – particularly the image of ‘Umar al-Mukhtar, the Cyrenaican resistance leader executed in 1931, which now appears throughout Benghazi – but this time, as the figurehead for resistance to Qadhafi.
I propose a historical contextualization of the language and images of the uprising and its eventual political ramifications, with a particular focus on how emblems of past struggles are harnessed in new struggles; and conversely, on how the memory of earlier violence may also be rewritten, in light of the outcome – judicial and otherwise – of recent brutalities.
‘“I Know that Face:” The Black Arm Band and Cultural Memory’
In February 2011 the Forum Theatre in Melbourne hosted the world premiere of a new film, Murundak – songs of freedom. This musical documentary follows the national and international tours of ^ , a collection of mainly Indigenous individual performers who banded together in 2007 as a cultural response to Prime Minister John Howard’s adoption of the phrase a ‘black arm band’ to describe a view of history.
One of the aims of the film is to chart the intersection between the history of the Aboriginal civil rights’ movement and the growth of the Indigenous musical scene. It intersperses individual testimonies, archival news footage, highlights from the band’s various concerts, and backstage scenes. An important element of how the film works to reinstate Indigenous memory, at personal, national and international levels, is through the range of its significant locations, from London to Fitzroy Crossing.
What is at issue here is the contesting of a history which ignores, not only the trauma imbedded in the relationship between Indigenous peoples and settler societies, but also a rich history of protest by Indigenous people. This contestation has been the subject of many Indigenous songs from Yothu Yindi’s ‘Treaty’ to Archie Roach’s ‘Took the Children Away’. The packaging of these songs through the visual medium of the documentary recognizes their political significance, respects and amplifies their memorializing function, and brings them back from the archival memory (or forgetting) and into a wider public circulation.
One of the artists, Rachel Maza, talks about the need to go beyond the ‘Black Arm Band’ or the ‘White Blindfold’ view of the world and towards a new future. As she pointedly says to the concert audiences, ‘This is a cultural intervention.’
‘Unspoken Histories: Silence and Speech amongst the Asháninka’
The Asháninka people of the Central Peruvian Amazon experienced extreme trauma and forced displacement during the ‘conflict period’ in Peru in the 1980s and 1990s. This experience follows a recorded history of conflict with explorers, missionaries and transnational companies seeking petrol, logging, rubber and hydroelectric power. But of what use are these histories if memory has been silenced? Mainstream Peruvian society is currently dealing with the aftermath of a long period of conflict and abuse of power. This process has included intense investigation and reporting by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the construction of ‘Memory Museums’ and other monuments which speak of the truth and the suffering of those difficult years, as well as the on-going task of reparations distribution. The Asháninka, however, have chosen not to participate in this process. In these communities, silence exists where history should stand and the process of constructing new communities and new identities is underway in a manner which resists mainstream frameworks and raises questions about the relationship between history and culture. In opposition to the current discourse on the ‘unspeakable’ nature of traumatic experience as well as the healing power of speech, this paper intends to explore the idea that silence about the past can be a powerful and empowered act of identity articulation.
‘The 1991-2000 Australian Reconciliation Process’
In 1991, the Australian Parliament unanimously passed the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Act. The Act implemented a ten-year reconciliation process in Australia that aimed to reconcile Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by the end of 2000. The process had three goals: educate the wider Australian community about reconciliation and Indigenous issues; foster a national commitment to address Indigenous socio-economic disadvantage; and investigate the desirability of developing a document of reconciliation, and if considered desirable, advise on the content of a document.
This paper examines this ten-year reconciliation process in Australia. It analyses each of the three goals and argues that neither the aim nor any of the three goals were achieved by the end of the ten-year process. The paper discusses several factors that contributed to the failure of the reconciliation process. These factors were the manner of the establishment of the reconciliation process, the different approaches to reconciliation by governments, Indigenous people and the wider Australian community, the nationalist discourse of reconciliation, the emphasis on distributive justice rather than reparative justice and the emphasis on improving relationships rather than on also accommodating differences.
‘20 Years Ago - Justice in a New Germany: The German Border Guard Debate’
The year 2012 will mark the 20th anniversary of the first verdict rendered by the German Supreme Court for Criminal Law (Bundesgerichtshof in Strafsachen) in that matter. On November 3, 1992, the court delivered its opinion regarding the culpability of the East German border guards that killed fleeing East Germans. The issue posed new challenges to the reunified Germany and stirred lively discourse among legal scholars. Despite their history of ideological divide, it is still astonishing how a balance of justice was sought in the application of the East German and the Federal German law, which found new interpretations in courts when the transferred West German legal principles were applied to a particular case. To show how this played out in the court rooms, an historical overview of the main discourse on jurisdiction, applicable national laws, international treaties will be followed by a discussion of the first Supreme Court decisions in that matter. To magnify the historical dimension of Germany’s search for justice after the demise of totalitarian regime, the presentation will be focused on the debate as it ensued after the reunification of Germany in 1990, but in its assessment still largely from the perspective of a criminal lawyer. The discussion of Germany’s struggles with justice in the matter of the East German border guard regime will close with a comment on the ‘nature’ of justice and on the public reception of these, in fact, historical trials.
‘When the Past Haunts the Present: Intergroup Forgiveness and Historical Closure in Post World War II Societies in East Asia and in Europe’
The study investigates intergroup forgiveness and its antecedents in the social context of post World War II in East Asia and Europe. A social representation of history and identity theoretical framework was used wherein societal context influences intergroup forgiveness of formerly victimized societies. Data was collected from 1197 university students from mainland China, Taiwan, the Philippines, France, Russia and Poland. ANOVAs show significant differences across societies. Mainland Chinese participants were less forgiving of Japanese WWII misconduct than all other participants. We introduced two new variables historical closure and perceived costs of granting forgiveness; both contributed to explaining the complex and dynamic process of forgiveness between groups. Multiple hierarchical regressions and cross-level analyses showed that the social and political contexts are significant contributors in the intergroup forgiveness process, with post-WWII conflict over collective remembering more severe in Asia than in Europe. The importance of accounting for and the necessity to extend the scope of research regarding the political and historical context in which formerly victimized societies are embedded is highlighted.
‘“At this site:” The Articulation of Identities Through Sites of Historical Violence’
This paper will explore the role of memories of historical violence in the articulation of collective identities by tracing the use and invocation of the physical sites at which historical violence took place. Through this paper, I hope to delineate the shifting modes and interfaces by which the sites have formed and are formed by the historical violence and its memory. Taking the sites of the Highland Clearances in Scotland as a case study for this paper, I draw on a growing area of cultural memory research that explores the importance of the site of historical violence to questions of national or collective identity constructions and articulations. In returning memory to its site of conception, to the physical site around which it pivots, this paper will add another dimension to broader understandings of the relationship between that which is past and that which is present.
This research has implications for contemporary debates around the articulations of national identities through evocations of historical violence by examining the present use of the sites of the Highland Clearances as places of official importance for Scottish identity. The paper will offer a unique evaluation of questions of place, memory, forgetting and identity and the enacting of the complexities inherent in these terms at the physical sites of historical violence.
‘Assembling Alternative History Projects Surrounding the 1965 Indonesian Political Repression’
Survivors of the 1965 political repression in Indonesia have found little justice after the end of the Suharto regime. The continuing ban on the Indonesian Communist Party and associated mass organisations is the key obstacle. Indonesia's rich history of local and international activism during the Sukarno years was buried alongside the many victims of the 1965 repression, most of whom were from the political left. Some survivors downplay or erase their past political and social activism, the reasons they were targeted – because to tell such life stories could lead to further persecution. Some non-government organisations held 'reconciliation' meetings in which survivors' past political activism is downplayed. In the absence of state redress for the 1965 victims, this paper explores the possibilities contained in oral history and collective biographical practices of establishing space and legitimacy for leftist political activism of the 1960s to challenge the ban and as a small step in alternative history-making.
‘Geographies of Justice at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal’
This paper will draw on observation of, participation in, and reflection on the legal outreach program of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal or Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, including two weeks of proceedings in the current Case 002 against three former Khmer Rouge figures accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The paper will first argue for greater attention to the legal geographies or legal spatialities of transient historical justice mechanisms such as hybrid tribunals, where both national and international law is simultaneously applied. Second I will argue that the requirement that legal events such as the ECCC undertake legal ‘outreach’ to facilitate engagement and awareness of the legal proceedings amongst citizens – as witnesses, civil parties, victims and youth – re-shapes the very law it seeks to deploy. In the case of the ECCC, outreach becomes ‘in-reach’; interests, confusions, memories, bodies and demands of justice are brought into the heart of proceedings, to significant effect.
This paper examines the systematic efforts to dismantle or destroy the symbolic dimension of the Baathist regime in Iraq since 2003. It argues that while the Baath were undeniably cruel and oppressive, they did undertake one of the twentieth century’s most robust attempts to utilise the political power of historical memory to create a unified Iraqi national identity. However, while many have examined the militaristic or bureaucratic dimensions of de-Baathification, no such attempts have been made to examine the destruction of the symbols and monuments of the Baathist state and the consequences it has had for Iraqi national identity. This paper addresses this paucity and concludes that with the symbolic destruction of the Baathist state has come a near complete erosion of the Iraqi brand of nationalism that the Baath had managed to promulgate to varying degrees of success since the late 1960s.
‘The Prospect of Establishing a Truth-telling and Reconciliation Mechanism in Uganda’
While eulogising former President Apollo Milton Obote, President Museveni argued that the time had come to look for ways to bring genuine reconciliation in the country. Since then, others have also weighed in on the need for national reconciliation in Uganda. In this regard specific recommendations have been made on the need to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to once and for all deal with Uganda’s past. However, talk of reconciliation has been heard before in Uganda. Former dictator Idi Amin instituted a commission in 1974 to look into the disappearance of people in the early years of his rule whose recommendations were never implemented. When he came to power in 1986, Museveni himself established a commission to look into violations of human rights from independence up to the time when he took the reigns of power. Very few of its recommendations were ever implemented.
In December 2003, the government referred the situation in Northern Uganda to the International Criminal Court. After a year-long investigation, the court issued arrest warrants for the top five Lords Resistance Army (LRA) commanders. The action of the ICC elicited different reactions in Uganda. While some sections of the society thought retributive justice was the way to go to end the LRA rebellion, others thought that restorative justice should be encouraged. The latter justice would involve truth-telling and forgiving so that the community could move ahead.
This paper will aim at moving this debate forward by providing policy choices on how to move the issue of national reconciliation forward. As of now, many sections of Ugandan society continue to call for national reconciliation but President Museveni seems to have reneged on his promise to establish a TRC. Meanwhile, the LRA rebels continue to pose a latent threat to the long term stability of the country.
‘Acknowledgement and Accountability in Historical Abuse in Residential Child Care: Time to Be Heard’
In December 2004, Scotland’s First Minister offered ‘a sincere and full apology on behalf of the people of Scotland’ to those who suffered abuse in residential care homes in the past. Following this, Tom Shaw carried out the ^ which addressed the regulatory framework for residential care between 1950 and 1995. In 2008, the Scottish Government announced a consultation on an ‘Acknowledgement and Accountability Forum’. This led to the Time To Be Heard Pilot to test the effectiveness of a confidential forum in giving former residents the opportunity to recount their experiences in care, especially abusive experiences, to an independent panel.
The Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care has been closely involved in developments and has carried out research which has contributed to these developments. This has included research on a human rights framework for acknowledgement and accountability of historical abuse which involved interviews with ten abuse survivors and three focus groups with relevant professionals. In addition, an evaluation of the Time to Be Heard Pilot Forum involved interviews with 12 participants in the forum. This research highlighted the need for transparency in the participation of survivors and the importance of both acknowledgement and accountability. Participants in the Forum were overwhelmingly positive about their experience of the process, but again raised issues about acknowledgement and accountability.
This presentation will compare developments in Scotland with those in other countries such as Australia, Canada, Ireland and Northern Ireland in order to identify best practice in acknowledgement and accountability.
Hun Joon Kim
‘Transitional Justice in South Korea: The Jeju Commission’
This paper examines the major activities of the Jeju Commission over the decade between 2000 and 2011. Following its mandates, the commission focused on three key projects: to investigate and reveal the truth, to screen and identify victims, and to restore the honour of the victims and families. Since the revision of the special act in 2007, the commission also pursued commemoration projects, such as building the Jeju Peace Memorial Park and Museum and establishing the Jeju 4.3 Peace Foundation, to promote research, the education of students and the public, and the excavation of mass graves. I argue that the Jeju Commission has had a positive impact on Korean society as a whole by improving human rights and enhancing democracy. I support this argument by tracing the key changes the commission has made to Korean society, such as the presidential apology, revision of history textbooks and official documents, excavation and reburial, and creation of a permanent foundation. In addition, I argue that the commission has enhanced the political legitimacy of the government by dissociating the current regime from the past, facilitating reform, and bolstering the core values of democracy such as justice, human rights, and the rule of law.
‘Remembering the Rwandan Genocide: Sites of Contention or Reconciliation’
The call to remember – twibuke – is promoted somewhat paradoxically by the Rwandan Government at the same time as it pursues a policy of national unity and reconciliation following the 1994 genocide in which almost one million Rwandans – mostly Tutsi – were killed. There are six national memorial sites in Rwanda, as well as numerous informal sites of memory throughout the country. The national memorials include three former churches, Nyamata, Ntarama and Nyarubuye; the graphic displays at the Murambi Memorial Centre; the national resistance memorial in the Bisesero hills; and the Gisozi Memorial Centre burial site in Kigali. Each year the flame at Gisozi is lit between 7 April and 17 July, the 100 days of the genocide, and National Commemoration Week, 7–13 April, honours those who died. In this paper I discuss how memorialisation is generating sites of contention rather than reconciliation in Rwanda and in the diaspora, with divisions emerging between survivors and others in terms of competing historical narratives, political objectives and perspectives on the public and private functions of remembering. This paper explores the ways in which Rwandans in Australia have chosen to remember the genocide and asks whether memorialisation can promote reconciliation.
‘Replaying Historical Silences in Postcolonial Tribal Courts: “Indigenous” Criminals, Contemporary “Bad Guys” and Remembering the “Wild Tribes” in the Modern Nation-State’
Attempts to come to terms with past injustices come in all sizes: national truth commissions, public memorials or more personal efforts of truth telling. Such efforts of civil society are commendable and often are focused on the nation’s need to heal from the profoundly disturbing histories of genocides or other acts of mass annihilation. This paper focuses on a ‘minor key’ version and its contemporary ramifications to examine how silenced histories can replay as individual experience in unexpected and damaging guises while disrupting contemporary efforts to reclaim identities upended by historically based social traumas. The paper examines the relevance of historical justice enacted as part of the US colonial agenda on the Navajo reservation to contemporary developments of postcolonial tribal justice on the Navajo reservation. Specifically, this paper addresses the role of nineteenth and early twentieth century US nation building narratives of ‘native violence and savagery’ in historically constructing indigenous outsiders to the state and the problem of obscuring this history for tribal members as they act to (re)inscribe indigenous identity through their own struggles to establish outsiders to the postcolonial tribal nation within their tribal court system. The significance of this (silenced) history will be discussed in the context of transgenerational memory when the state controls the means to construct ‘history’ for marginalized communities. I consider the relevance of (re)constructing narrative truths regarding colonization of identity through law and legal process to contemporary struggles to claim a decolonized historicized self; and the need for further collaboration between scholars of historical memory concerned about political violence and its psychological legacy and psychoanalysts concerned with addressing transgenerational trauma as individual experience.
‘Narrating the Black Presence in the UK to Promote Reconciliation’
One of the ways for countries to address age-old injustices committed against humankind who live within their borders is to confront the historical legacies of their past – however complex, painful and dimly transparent. For to continue to press forward with the development of a nation that will be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles requires those engaged in change must first confront, acknowledge and strive to understand that difficult history. This paper will focus on how various institutions in Great Britain – educational, social, political, and economic – have begun to narrate the history of the Black Presence in the UK. This paper will consider how these presentations focus on the discipline of history, but weave together history, memory and justice. In fact, the emphasis on the concepts of justice and reconciliation in the new national narrative enables the citizenry to begin to interrogate its historical memory of the black presence in the UK while developing an historical consciousness of human rights and justice delayed.
‘How Can Memories of Past In-Group Crimes Be Integrated in Positive National Identity?’
We asked a sample of Italian university students (number: 103; average age: 21,17) to fill in two questionnaires on their opinions, knowledge and emotions regarding Italian colonial wars, before and after reading a historical text conveying crimes of the Italian army during a colonial war in Ethiopia either in factual or in elusive language. Results showed that all participants, as well as most Italian adults (del Boca, 2005), simply did not know about their country’s colonial wars. In this social climate of amnesia (Pivato, 2007), participants reading a detailed narrative of in-group war crimes showed a significant heightening of their negative emotions, when compared with participants reading an elusive narrative. Also, willingness to help the group of former victims became significantly higher only when participants were exposed to clear, factual knowledge. Instead, no significant change in the feeling of being ‘guilty by association’ (Doosje, Branscombe, Spears and Manstead, 1998) was shown in participants exposed to either kind of narrative. Items on identification with the in-group were not related to these emotional changes, except for a diminishing degree of the feeling of being proud and glad to be part of one’s own national group when reading an elusive story. Results suggest that the positive role of negative emotions due to a detailed narrative of past in-group crimes, when referring to new members of a group of former perpetrators, should be explored further.
‘Which Ethics of Memory?’
The ethics of memory concerns normative claims that we should remember, or should not forget, certain events or features of the past. But how (if we admit them) should we respond to normative claims about memory? Will it be enough for us to keep records of the past and commemorate it in monuments and street signs? Will the making of votive acts or acts of restitution for past actions be enough? Or will we need to teach ourselves and others about the past, repeatedly eliciting and practising those details we should remember? Is it by the making of artefacts, of ceremony, of restitution, or only by the making of reliably accessible mental states that we begin to do the right thing in relation to memory?
In this paper I address an argument in Avishai Margalit’s ^ (2002). Margalit proposes that normative claims about collective memory are made possible and satisfied by what he calls ‘shared memory’. ‘Shared memory’, as Margalit identifies it, ‘in a modern society travels from person to person through institutions, such as archives, and through communal mnemonic devices, such as monuments and the names of streets’ (p. 54). I argue that Margalit’s conclusion that archives and other artefacts satisfy normative claims about collective memory rests on a common fallacy. I do not deny that ethical behaviour is possible in relation to memory. I argue instead that ethical behaviour in relation to memory concerns the malleability of the human nervous system. By teaching ourselves and others about the past we answer claims that we should remember with enduring mental states concerning the past. And by distributing these mental states in the minds of the living we make possible the kind of societal deliberation that could help us begin to do justice to the historical past.
‘Doubled Retribution Perspective and Memory Flows: France and the Netherlands as Victors and Victims in Europe and Asia After 1945’
The paper applies the theoretical approach of transitional justice and memory flows to two nations which share a doubled retribution perspective, in order to shed light not only on the different application of retribution politics after World War II in Europe and Asia, but also on intercultural flows within the memory debate. It is particularly interesting to focus on two nations that share both positions, that of victor and victim, in two continents: the case of France (in Indochina) and the Netherlands (in Indonesia).
The aim of this paper is to examine the interaction between War Crimes trials policy and memory debates in Europe and Asia after 1945, focussing on the flow of personnel as well as of concepts and politics, as for example the United Nations War Crimes Sub-Commission for the Far East. The engagement of the Netherlands and France as Allied Nations in the Tokyo War Crimes Trial and in the Military courts set in their (former) colonial regions provided an important underlying pattern towards the retribution politics adopted in their European home lands, where ‘memory flows’ influenced the public debate and consequently reshaped the post-conflict society. The War Crimes policy in East Asia differs significantly from the European practice, despite the binding policy of the UNWCC, as in East Asia it was the European colonizers, as a substitute for the non-sovereign nations which had suffered the crimes, who brought Japanese defendants to trial.
This paper will focus on the judges engaged in both regions, which represent a go-between and transmitter of ideas and legal concepts between Asia and Europe after 1945. Based on their experiences as judges in East Asia, many European staff members returned to their home countries and advocated more sensitiveness for victim’s participation in Court and a different approach to state criminality than they had done before 1945. By analyzing briefly the case of the Dutch Judge Bert Röling and the subsequent Dutch trial policy in Indonesia and its influence on the memory debate in the European motherland, it becomes furthermore apparent that the Netherlands during this period were sharing a double experience in Indonesia itself. One the one hand they felt as victim of the Japanese occupation and the subsequent ‘loss of their former colony in the pre-war sense’, and on the other hand they endorsed the role of perpetrator when dealing with the Indonesian struggle for independence. In Europe, their role was much clearer that of a victim, while notions of crimes were externalized to the German occupiers and ‘a handful of collaborators’. We argue that the traumatic decolonization experience and the problem of violence against civilians had an impact on memory politics in the homeland and thus challenged the European discourse about how to come to terms with the past.
‘Memorialisation at Long Tan, Vietnam: Memory, Motivation and Agency’
The process of memorialising wars commonly starts with the survivors, and only later are nation states called upon to intervene. The reasons that the soldiers and other associated personnel such as nurses might have for wanting to remember particular war-related events and places differ markedly from those that motivate governments. Using the Australian intervention in the Vietnam War as a case study, this paper explores the commemoration and memorialisation by Australians and Vietnamese, with special reference to the Long Tan battle of August 1967 and the way it, and especially the Long Tan Cross, has become an iconic place for Australians and respected by the Vietnamese. The paper focuses on the differences in the motivations of Australian and Vietnamese survivors, now veterans, and of the two belligerent states, Australia and North Vietnam. The paper comments on whether historical injustice and the need for atonement are reflected in official and veterans’ representations of the Vietnam War. Going beyond memorialisation, the paper shows how the atonement and other motivations and public attitudes have played out more widely in terms of diplomatic relations, foreign aid policies and programs and the involvement of Australian veterans groups in local economic development and community building in Vietnam. Within Vietnam itself the conflict played out as a civil war, and the memories held by South Vietnamese and their frustrated efforts to memorialise their engagement in the conflict are also considered. As well as exploring the role of agency, motivation and memory in the process of heritage making, the paper shows how war heritage can be used as a means of reaching reconciliation between previously warring peoples but misused to maintain distinctions between victors and vanquished. The usefulness of the notion of historical justice is questioned in post-war and post-civil war situations where people are locked into fixed histories and are unprepared or unable to revisit and re-tell personal and collective memories and histories.
‘Intergenerational Memory and Historical Justice in the Case of the 1965-66 Anti-Communist Violence’
The most prolific research on inter-generational memory is in the field of holocaust studies but here the emphasis has largely been on descendants of survivors of the violence, versus the descendants of ‘implicated communities’: communities that have played a part in or benefitted from past violence (Morris-Suzuki, 2002). Referring to the case of Germany, Gabriel Schwab argues, that ‘transgenerational memories and narratives of perpetrator nations can help create the conditions for the descendants of perpetrators to become allies in the struggle against violence and oppression. The shock of recognizing the atrocities committed by one’s own people may prepare the ground for potential alliances with the victims.’ (2010, p. 27) Through a case study of young activists in Indonesia who are dedicated to researching the 1965 anti-communist killings, this paper will explore why in the context of continuing state denials of historical injustice members of ‘implicated communities’ might turn to critically re-examining acts of historical injustice. Through an analysis of the life experiences of these activists the paper also examines the significance of ‘inter- and trans- generational transmission of traumatic knowledge and experience’ in the case of the 1965 violence (Hirsch, 2008, p. 106).
‘Photography, Historical Justice and the Politics of Memory’
Dutch photographer Jan Banning and journalist and anthropologist Hilde Janssen travelled around Indonesia from 2007 to 2009 to document the elderly Indonesian survivors of the wartime enforced military prostitution/sexual slavery system carried out by the Japanese army. These photographs were displayed in an exhibition in Rotterdam in 2010 and collected in a large-format book, alongside brief biographies of the survivors. The photographs are portrait-style with each woman looking directly at the camera and thus at the viewer. In the exhibition, they were displayed slightly larger than life-size. In a preface to the book, Jan Banning and Hilde Janssen express the hope that 'this book can contribute to the prevention of future atrocities like the ones they experienced'. In this paper, I will explore the ethics and politics of display in this exhibition and book, and consider how the gallery viewer and reader are being positioned through this display. Can photographs of past wrongs really contribute to the prevention of future wrongs, and if so, what is the relationship between past wrongs, present spectatorship, and future political action?
‘Haifa’s Denied Past’
A 250th anniversary of a town is usually an occasion for official celebrations of the event. Not in Haifa, my hometown. The Jewish Zionist mayor did not think that the city council had to commemorate the founding of the city in 1761 by the Arab ruler of the Gallilee, Daher el Omar A-Zaidani. Only the local Arab community celebrated the anniversary of the city.
During the British mandate Haifa had developed very rapidly from a small town into a modern harbour city, with a mixed population of 145,000 inhabitants, 74,00 of them Jewish. During the 1948 war in Palestine most of the Arab population of the town fled Haifa, and mostly also the country. The Jewish military forces occupied the Arab parts of the city. A tiny minority of 3,500 Arabs remained in Haifa. Most of the historic site of the old city was ruined by the Israeli army in 1948. Since 1948 the state of Israel has not allowed the Arab refugees to return. Their houses were expropriated and Jewish immigrants were settled in them. Haifa became a mostly Jewish urban space with many Arab landmarks.
In my paper I would like to discuss, on the one hand, the attempts to deny the Arab past and to erase its presence in the urban space, and, on the other hand, the attempts to reconcile the two national communities through reconstructions of the city’s past.
‘Public Memory in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Social Justice and the Selective Representation of Victims’
A host of new public memorials and monuments have been installed in South Africa since 1994 to pay tribute to the victims of the anti-apartheid conflict and more generally those who sacrificed their lives in the country’s long history of resistance against race-based oppression. Most of these memory markers are established by the government and legitimated through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) recommendation that symbolic forms of reparation should be provided for victims of gross human rights violations. Although the TRC adopted the principle of an equality of all victims, the government’s policy and practice of public memory reflects an implicit hierarchy of victims and clear boundaries between those who do and those who do not deserve to be commemorated in the public domain. With reference to selected case studies, this paper will develop a typology consisting of four categories of victims, only two of which can be represented in officially sanctioned memory sites. It is argued that such selective remembering, implicit grading of victims and unequal public representation in the official memory landscape not only suggests how the past should be interpreted and but also reveals a lot about the envisaged imaginary of the nation and the role that different people’s contributions, especially that of the ultimate sacrifice, is seen to play in it.
‘Locating Liberation: Digital Democracy and Mediatised Memories in Australia’s Second-Generation Latin American Migrant Communities’
Australia’s Latin American population has increased steadily from its early beginnings in the 1970s and 1980s, fuelled by those fleeing violence and instability in that continent. Many former refugees and migrants now use online technologies to maintain direct contact with their former homes. Yet, migrants’ responses to remembered and imagined violence have also profoundly affected the settlement of their families in Australia.
Second-generation Latino/as in Australia are less likely to associate their political activism with their parents’ former homes (despite the familial and mnemonic connections). Rather, Venezuela now acts as an associative locale for wide-ranging social memories of historical injustice. On the one hand, individuals join ‘Brigades to Venezuela’, travelling to Venezuela to support President Hugo Chavez. On the other, online forums have consolidated and expanded their parents’ early intersectional coalitions with New Left groups, fuelling strong support for Green, Indigenous and anti-capitalism struggles globally.
This paper argues that the Internet has transformed multicultural frameworks, increasing the potential for second-generation migrants’ enactment of disaggregated forms of citizenship. This is particularly significant for migrants in low-density populations. Viewing the troubled processes of democratic transition in Latin America from afar, they must simultaneously engage with Australian liberal democratic norms. Better understanding intersectional identification and online activism by second-generation migrants offers important lessons in changing perceptions of citizenship and belonging at a time of ongoing democratic struggles.
‘Armenia and Indonesia: Trauma, Recognition and Recovery in the Aftermath of Genocide’
This paper will explore how the process of recovery in the aftermath of genocide is fundamentally disrupted by the absence of open acknowledgement of the events that occurred. In the wake of the 1915 Armenian genocide, the Turkish government began to distort and deny the atrocities, which has evolved into a sophisticated campaign of genocide denial that continues to the present day. In Indonesia, the government has continued to deny its role in the 1965-66 Indonesian killings in which approximately five hundred thousand ‘communist sympathisers’ were killed. Separated by half a century and half a world, the two cases share significant similarities in arrested recovery and reconciliation after mass atrocities. In both cases, the lack of official acknowledgement and denial of harm done continue to cause on-going trauma for survivors and their descendants. As the denial has continued, it has left a legacy of intergenerational trauma. Refusal to acknowledge past atrocities by the Turkish government for the Armenian genocide and by the Indonesian government for its role in the massacres is also the direct cause of on-going demands by survivors and advocates for accountability as a foundational step in reconciliation. By exploring the similarities of the Armenian and Indonesian cases, this paper shows that the acknowledgement of past wrongs is essential for recovery after mass atrocities.
‘State and Citizens Striving for Historical Justice in Estonia: An Anthropological Perspective on the Dialogue between Personal and Political Memories’
States establish truth commissions, and assign lustration and compensation policies, in order to deal with past injustices. In a country like Estonia, it is not that easy to decide who was right and who was wrong. Estonian politicians are still struggling to come to terms with their Communist past, while simultaneously fulfilling the democratic requirements of the EU (joined in 2004). Although the state has taken many steps to reckon with its past of occupations, an anthropological insight reveals that many Estonians do not feel their voices to be publicly represented. This presentation focuses especially on Estonian activists and nationalists, who argue that the state – too much concerned with EU eyes watching them – does not sufficiently recognize the Estonian independence fighters and victims of Communism, and that severe punishment of former Communists is lacking. Why do these citizens dedicate their lives to strive for public closure of the past, whereas other citizens do not take this responsibility upon themselves? On the basis of ethnographic, archival and questionnaire data, I will argue that justice cannot be understood on solely a political level; it is deeply embedded in people’s personal memories, especially in countries with a past of occupational regimes.