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Rethinking South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission

November 4, 2013 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm


Assistant Professor of Law, Jourisprudence, and Social Thought at Amherst College, Adam Sitze will discuss his new book, The Impossible Machine: A Genealogy of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In The Impossible Machine Adam Sitze meticulously traces the origins of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission back to two well-established instruments of colonial and imperial governance: the jurisprudence of indemnity and the commission of inquiry. This genealogy provides a fresh, though counterintuitive, understanding of the TRC’s legal, political, and cultural importance. The TRC’s genius, Sitze contends, is not the substitution of “forgiving” restorative justice for “strict” legal justice but rather the innovative adaptation of colonial law, sovereignty, and government. However, this also contains a potential liability: if the TRC’s origins are forgotten, the very enterprise intended to overturn the jurisprudence of colonial rule may perpetuate it. In sum, Sitze proposes a provocative new means by which South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be understood and evaluated.

Brought to you by the Human Rights Project, the Historical Studies program, the Africana Studies program and the Political Studies program.


November 4, 2013
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm


RKC 115