Cover of Taking Wrongs Seriously by Edited by Elazar Barkan and Alexander Karn
Taking Wrongs Seriously
Apologies and Reconciliation
Edited by Elazar Barkan and Alexander Karn

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2006
352 pages.
from $26.95

Cloth ISBN: 9780804752244
Paper ISBN: 9780804752251

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Since the end of the Cold War, and particularly during the last fifteen years, the human need to amend immoral wrongs has been expressed in political discourse as a propensity to apologize for acts of past injustice. Can apology, by bringing closure to conflicts and by opening new possibilities for communication and mutual understanding, cultivate reconciliation and ameliorate the present? Taking Wrongs Seriously examines the increasingly potent role of apology as a social force. Contributors explore in a comparative and interdisciplinary framework the role and function—as well as the limitations—that apology has in promoting dialogue, tolerance, and cooperation between groups confronting one another over past injustices. Fourteen essays draw on a variety of disciplines—including history, international relations, transition studies, sociology, legal studies, psychology, and religion—to explore the real and symbolic transactions that lie at the core of apology. There is no similar introductory text on this subject that includes multiple disciplinary perspectives as well as such a wide geographical and historical spectrum of case studies.

About the author

Elazar Barkan is Professor of History and Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University. He is the author of The Guilt of Nations: Restitution and Negotiating Historical Injustices (2000), and Retreat of Scientific Racism (1992). Alexander Karn is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Claremont Graduate University.

"This is an intriguing and thought-provoking volume on the normative and empirical aspects of the phenomenon of political apologies that has become so widespread and captivating in recent years."

—John Torpey, CUNY Graduate Center

"...important and thought-provoking book..."

The Law and Politics Book Review