SoSe 14: S: Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa
Kai Martin Wiegandt
South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was to clear up the 34 years of the Nationalist era and operated under the assumption that the publication or voicing of truth would lead not ... read more
South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was to clear up the 34 years of the Nationalist era and operated under the assumption that the publication or voicing of truth would lead not only to reconciliation but also to a sort of justice. The chair of the Commission, Desmond Tutu, stresses in his book on the TRC that the perpetrators were not required to express remorse or to ask forgiveness but only to make a full disclosure of their crimes before the TRC in order to qualify for amnesty - a fact that prompted the criticism that a mere admission of atrocities did not further the aim of justice. Others suggested that 'looking into the heart' of those on trial would be a preposterous endeavour usurping religious confession. Many deemed the commission a success. In this seminar we will analyse the cultural dynamics in which the TRC was embedded and which it set itself in motion. We will read two nonfictional accounts - by Tutu and by Antje Krog - and two novels that obliquely address the TRC and pose questions about its proceedings: Zoë Wicomb's David's Story and J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace. What sort of justice can be achieved by truth commissions? How do literary approaches to truth and justice differ from the commission's work?
Participants will have to read critical essays in addition to the assigned texts (the criticism will be made available on Blackboard). Regular attendance (no more than two missed classes), the writing of weekly response papers and a presentation are obligatory. Credits can be acquired by submitting a paper on a specialised topic. English is spoken in class. Your language skills should be at the C1 level or higher according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Antje Krog: Country of my Skull. Broadway, 2000.
Zoë Wicomb: David's Story. Feminist Press, 2002.
J. M. Coetzee: Disgrace. Vintage, 2000.
Desmond Tutu: No Future Without Forgiveness: A Personal Overview of SouthAfrica's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Rider, 2000.