Rhetorics of reconciliation

Shifting conflict paradigms inNorthern Ireland

Adrian Little

The concept of reconciliation has endured a chequered development in the last twenty years. Not surprisingly, given its prominence in conflict transformation processes in South Africa in the 1990s, the primary usage of the concept of reconciliation was as a normative good (Hamber and van der Merwe 1998; Lederach 1997). Buoyed by the ostensible success of the South African example, pressure groups, NGOs and peace activists in a variety of political settings commandeered the idea of reconciliation to bolster their arguments (Bar-Siman-Tov 2004). However, as events unfolded in South Africa, and as the difficulties in establishing shared understandings of reconciliation ...

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