We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Irreconcilable times

Mookherjee, Nayanika (2022) 'Irreconcilable times.', Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 28 (S1). pp. 153-178.


In Denktagebuch (Thought diary, 1950-73), Hannah Arendt wrote that acts which cannot be forgiven are beyond punishment and hence cannot be reconciled to. In this essay, I draw from Arendt to further theorize and extend the concept of irreconciliation. I draw together ethnographic material, historical material, documents, media reports, and reviews during this era of irreconcilability which includes Black Lives Matter; the memorialization debates on the removal of statues of enslavers; the history of slavery in the United Kingdom; and the ‘harmony ideology’ experienced by BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) academics within UK organizations linked to long-term discrimination. I argue for the concept of irreconciliation as a bulwark against impunity, against a ‘window-dressed’, symbolic performance of redress, and to be able to echo Arendt's words that ‘this’ – any original cause of injustice – ‘ought never to have happened’.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
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:04 March 2022
Date deposited:29 June 2022
Date of first online publication:20 May 2022
Date first made open access:29 June 2022

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar