Seminar “Historical Atrocities, the search for truth and the politics of memory” with Bonny Ibhawoh

On 22 June, at 5 p.m. online, will be held another session of the seminar “Histories of the Present: the formation of the contemporary world”. Dedicated to the theme “Historical Atrocities, Truth-Seeking and the Politics of Memory”, the seminar will feature Bonny Ibhawoh (Centre for Human Rights and Restorative Justice McMaster University, Canada).

The growing popularity of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC) as mechanisms for redressing historical injustices and atrocities calls for a deeper reflection of the histories they produce. Over fifty truth commissions have been established globally in the past four decades. Although Truth Commissions are established for varied purposes, their primary mandate is to investigate past human rights abuses with the aim of finding the “truth” about their causes, patterns, and consequences. The goal is often to bring justice to victims and redress the wrongs they have suffered. In their effort to redress historical injustices and contemporary human rights violations, many truth commissions have been preoccupied with seeking “impartial histories” of abuse. As more countries, both in the Global South and North, adopt the truth commission model to address historical and contemporary abuses, we need to better understand their value and limitations as mechanisms for justice and historical reconstruction. This paper examines the debates over “history” in the work of Truth Commissions. It explores their quest to produce new histories of atrocities founded on contested collective memories. The talk draws from my new book on “Truth Commissions and State Building”.

[Posted: 20-06-2023]