The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa

Legitimizing the Post-Apartheid State

The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up to deal with the human rights violations of apartheid. However, the TRC's restorative justice approach 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. It 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.


 Reviews:

"It is impossible in this space to do justice to Wilson's subtle, complex and largely convincing book. Just about the best thing written on the TRC so far; it is deeply analytical yet broad in scope. Wilson offers us engaging chapters on the TRC's political life....This is a remarkable book." Journal of African History

"This provocative study deepens our understanding of post-aparthied South Africa and the use of human rights discourse." The African Sun Times

"Focusing on attitudes toward reconciliation, retribution, and vengeance, the author sees human rights in South Africa essentially as legal instruments that serve the purposes of compromise rather than the concept of justice....Wilson's analysis raises basic questions about the long-term efficacy of truth commissions and is useful for comparative purposes." Choice

'Just about the best thing written on the TRC so far, it is deeply analytical yet broad in scope. Wilson offers us engaging chapters of the TRC's political life, the way in which it gathered information, and popular understandings of vengeance and retribution in urban African communities around Johannesburg … This is a remarkable book. it should be read by anyone wishing to cut through much of the flotsam which has come to characterize talk of forgiveness and reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa. It will be of use to historians as a trenchant contemporary evaluation of the TRC's work.' Journal of African History

'This book is an important and careful analysis of the workings of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) … stringently and persuasively argued …'. The Round Table

'Throughout this carefully considered book, he combines cool scholarly analysis with passionately held humane opinions. It is a fine piece of work.' The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

'Wilson's study makes a strong and convincing argument.' Journal of Southern African Studies

No references available.