Making findings for the future: representational order and redemption in the work of the TRC

  • Lars Buur Research Associate Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg (Wits) 2050 South Africa


The following paper examines the ways in which the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission provided redemption to both individual perpetrators and to political organisations responsible for Gross Human Rights Violations by virtue of the particular representational ordering that was adopted. While the genealogy of this representational ordering can be traced back to the Information Management System, a database used for capturing data about perpetrators and victims, this ordering is ultimately apparent in the Final Report. Here we find evidence of the TRC's use of a particular representational ordering to reconcile the dual imperative to be impartial on the one hand, while on the other hand trying not to equate the violations of human rights perpetrated by the ANC with those perpetrated by the apartheid state. The representation of the apartheid state as a unified and homogenous entity is discussed as central to this strategy. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.20(1) 2001: 42-65

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0258-0136