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Dilemmas of Reconciliation

Cases and Concepts

Carol Prager and Trudy Govier, editors

Paper 368 pp.

ISBN13: 978-0-88920-415-7

Release Date: April 2003

Online discount: 25%

$44.99  $33.74


eBook availability

How can bitter enemies who have inflicted unspeakable acts of cruelty on each other live together in peace?

At a time in history when most organized violence consists of civil wars and when nations resort to genocidal policies, when horrendous numbers of civilians have been murdered, raped, or expelled from their homes, this book explores the possibility of forgiveness.

The contributors to this book draw upon the insights of history, political science, philosophy, and psychology to examine the trauma left in the wake of such actions, using, as examples, numerous case studies from the Holocaust, Russia, Cambodia, Guatemala, South Africa, and even Canada. They consider the fundamental psychological and philosophical issues that have to be confronted, offer insights about measures that can be taken to facilitate healing, and summarize what has been learned from previous struggles.

Dilemmas of Reconciliation is a pioneering effort that explores the extraordinary challenges that must be faced in the aftermath of genocide or barbarous civil wars. How these challenges of reconciliation are faced and resolved will affect not only the victims’ ability to go on with their lives but will impact regional stability and, ultimately, world peace.

Carol A.L. Prager is an associate professor of political science at the University of Calgary. Trudy Govier is a Canadian philosopher with an enduring interest in the ethics and politics of peace. She is the author of the widely used text A Practical Study of Argument and several other books.


“[A] timely collection of essays and case studies....Many of the essays are provocative and intriguing. Some of them demonstrate a profound willingness to address difficult and unwelcomed issues.”

— Leo Groarke, University of Toronto Quarterly—Letters in Canada 2003

“The variety of issues, disciplinary approaches and levels of inquiry represented in this book makes it interesting and instructive reading for postgraduate students and researchers within the areas of politics, peace studies, human rights law, anthropology, and contemporary philosophy. The volume is...successful in accomplishing its objectives in that it both provides an extensive mapping of the research territory of transitional justice and produces in-depth and thorough analysis of its different aspects.”

— Magdlena Zolkos, Copenhagen University, Political Studies Review

“This vital collection challenges anyone living in a violent world—which means all of us—to consider when and how survivors can reconcile rather than recapitulate the violence. With cogent essays and detailed case studies, philosophers, political theorists, historians, and activists join here to move beyond platitudes into deep analysis of why and how acknowledgement of harm matters, and what kinds of peace-making and mediation can be justified and can actually address moral and psychic wounds. Important grounds for doubt and reasons for hope gathered here shed light on the past and offer illumination for the future.”

— Martha Minnow, author of Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History after Genocide and Mass Violence

“A brilliant mix of theoretical analysis and empirical case studies that brings out clearly and concisely the political, legal, economic, and psycho-social dimensions of post-conflict reconciliation.”

— Howard Adelman, York University