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Special 2011, 41:3, pages 267 - 281

A Question of Confession’s Discovery

What can be said in the aftermath? Faced with legacies of conflict and the gross violation of human rights, the contemporary discourse of transitional justice has defended the work of confession as a way for deeply divided societies to “come to terms” with the past and move forward. Underwritten by a complex promise of recognition, this call for confessional truth-telling has proven controversial, not least at it risks undermining the testimony of victims and granting undue status to perpetrators. Giving voice to events that may prove unspeakable and performing a subjectivity that may defy accountability, the figure of confession imagined by transitional justice is perhaps best envisioned as a rhetorical question, a difficult inquiry into the response-ability of language in the wake of violence.

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