• Forgiving after Genocide
    Vol 1 No 2 (2017)

    In this issue, the authors explore the complexity of forgiveness from various fields and disciplines (Philosophy, Linguistics, History). From a theoretical persepctive, one article approaches forgiveness from a linguistic point of view, as a declarative illocutionary force in order to underline the double perlocutionary relation of forgiveness to apology and reconciliation. Another paper discusses that a victim's knowledge that a génocidaire has the capacity for moral change is compatible with a survivor's belief that the killer will never change. Some aporias of forgiveness are also analysed from a semiological perspective based on Derrida and Jankélévitch works on the topic in a post-genocide context. One article explores the mechanisms by which the Barbie trial (France) was configured as a narrator of the Holocaust to the French population. Another paper argues through 3 case studies (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools in Canada and the gacaca courts in Rwanda) that the use of the word "forgiveness" is inappropriate in political contexts. A third case study uses documents (letters Spaniards sent to the dictator Francisco Franco) to study the attempts to survive or to save relatives that Spanish people used in a context of repression and injustice.

  • Genocide: forms and norms of Forgiveness
    Vol 1 No 1 (2017)

    Forgiveness crosses time, from ancient times to the present, to question the relationship to the wrongdoing. The wrongdoing, which is also a flaw, a failure and a deviation from righteousness, marks a point of rupture between the good and the evil, the past and the future. How can forgiveness be understood, what are its place and function in the relationships disrupted by a genocidal will? According to its etymology, forgiveness is a superhuman act, an event in human life that is neither a right nor merit or duty. It is a supreme gift, beyond the power of both the offended and the offender, a sacrificial gift through which the offended and the offender “let go” in order to free the time and allow the emergence of a new citizen. But in the context of a genocide, is forgiveness still relevant? A genocide is a crime of incommensurable dimensions, which not only disrupts, but destroys the order, as well as the social, political and moral norms. A genocide becomes possible only because the law has been annihilated, and, with it, the citizen whom it is supposed to defend and to protect. 

    Reflecting upon forgiveness in the context of a genocide thus amounts to thinking about this impossibility, and to asking again the question of responsibility for the crime which, besides being a crime committed almost always by a “State”, is also as much collective as individual. Consequently, how should forgiveness be considered in this imbroglio of responsibilities? Who forgives whom and what forms does this forgiveness take, if at all possible? Is it a need or a possibility, a right or a duty, a benefit or a merit?

    It is to answer these questions that the topic for the conference is born and which proceedings you will find here. If forgiving implies going back in the past of the crimes to reopen the wound in order to better bandage it, is it possible to forgive without “banalizing the evil”, thus opening the way for its possible resurgence? You will find here the papers of researchers from different fields working on Genocide, ethnic cleansing, mass crimes, crimes against humanity, etc. These researchers have accepted to share their thoughts on this sensitive and complex issue that is recurrently in the public debate since the creation of the South-African Truth and Reconcialiation Commission, when the Archbishop Desmond Tutu transferred the responsability of forgiveness to the families of the victims.

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