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The Impossible Machine: A Genealogy of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission
by Adam Sitze
University of Michigan Press, 2016
Cloth: 978-0-472-11875-5 | Paper: 978-0-472-03658-5 | eISBN: 978-0-472-02910-5
Library of Congress Classification KTL470.S58 2013
Dewey Decimal Classification 968.06

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ABOUT THIS BOOK

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 approach 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.



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