State Apologies and the Rehumanization of Social Groups
Workshop on Ethics, Rights, Culture and the Humanization of Refugees (Edmonton, Canada), February 7-8, 2020
16 Pages Posted: 18 May 2020 Last revised: 10 Aug 2020
Date Written: 2020
Most state apologies are qualitatively about rehumanizing the apologizer, and seldom the apologized social group. That is to say, the apology generally redeems, atones and/or restores trust in the state (the apologizer). This article takes a relatively unique angle, and looks at the rare instances state apologies are employed to rehumanize the apologized social group. It employs a novel framework by bridging insights on the literature about apologies which has focused on how apologies function, and the literature on truth and reconciliation which has focused on rehumanization. It poses three analytical queries: (1) How are state apologies different towards a social group when the explicit goal is to rehumanize the apologized, not the apologizer? (2) What happens to the apologizer in such apologies? (3) What can be learned by jointly considering the apology literature, and truth and reconciliation literature, on how to make an effective state apology? The article will suggest that while a state apology often rehumanizes the apologizer, paradoxically, an apology is only effective if the intent is to rehumanize the victim, the apologized social group.
Keywords: state apologies, dehumanization and rehumanization, truth and reconciliation, indigenous, immigrant and ethnic minority groups
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