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Introduction: On irreconciliation

Mookherjee, Nayanika (2022) 'Introduction: On irreconciliation.', Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 28 (S1). pp. 11-33.


Most post-conflict reconciliatory exercises make it incumbent upon survivors to forgive, and seek closure as a demonstration of ‘moving on’. Various anthropologists have criticized reconciliation and related forms of ‘alternative justice’ extensively but within the framework of maintaining social bonds and the rule of law. In this introduction, I reflect critically on the interdisciplinary scholarship on reconciliation, apology, and forgiveness, and theorize irreconciliation as a less examined lens of analysis. Rather than being in opposition to ‘peace’, irreconciliation allows us to interrogate the status quo by refusing to forgive endemic impunities, particularly in the aftermath of staged processes of justice and the absence-presence of the rule of law. In this special issue of the JRAI, I ethnographically explore irreconciliation's links with law, aesthetics, temporality, resistance, and control to locate its multiple analytical manifestations. Irreconciliation allows an important examination of the rule of law within processes of unresolved genocidal injustices and debates relating to slavery, Black Lives Matter, and institutional responses.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2022 The Authors. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Anthropological Institute. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:28 June 2022
Date of first online publication:04 May 2022
Date first made open access:28 June 2022

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