Read e-book online Discourse and Human Rights Violations (Benjamins Current PDF

By Christine Anthonissen, Jan Blommaert

First released as a distinct factor of the Journal of Language and Politics 5:1 (2006), this choice of papers focuses, from a couple of varied disciplinary views, on facets of language and communique in reputable procedures of facing demanding pasts. it's a textual content that belongs to the style of speaking approximately ache, approximately country violence, approximately uncovering suppressed truths. Linguists and several other social scientists examine discourses, commonly ones generated in the course of hearings of the South African fact and Reconciliation fee (TRC), scrutinizing them for a way trauma is articulated and occasionally conquer, for a way confrontational discourses are publicly controlled, for the way, after gross human rights violations, reconciliation might be mediated. Language is seen as an software of confronting a disturbing previous, of negotiating clash, and of starting up approaches of therapeutic for people in addition to in groups.

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Mahmood Mamdani (1998) is also convinced that the amnesty process did not bring about personal justice. The fact is that the amnesty hearings focused on individual perpetrators. In this way, the structural evil of apartheid as a system was neglected in favor of the misdeeds committed by some individuals. Mamdani stresses that only a limited number of victims were taken care of by the TRC — only victims of gross human rights violations as defined in the TRC Act. The recently published collection “The Provocations of Amnesty: Memory, Justice and Impunity”, edited by Villa-Vicencio and Doxtader (2003), gives a very 23 24 Annelies Verdoolaege exhaustive overview of the different aspects of the amnesty process.

Returning for a moment to James Scott’s hidden transcripts, it seems that the difference between public and hidden transcripts would often include differences in pretextualities. The hidden — dissident, subversive or rebellious — transcripts would often be produced in formats seen as inappropriate for the public forum. They can be produced in substandard (dialect or slang) varieties of language, outside of literacy channels, in emotive or irrational keys and often using stylistic devices that would be qualified as folkloric, ritualistic or informal.

Thus, they become an argument for disqualification as illegitimate discourses, and the status of hidden transcript is to a large extent inscribed in the structure of the transcript itself. Bringing this back to the hearings, the problematic should now become clear. The overall format was formalistic and tightly structured, and the hearings were presided over by commissioners who used prestigious, elite forms of language as well as specific genres associated with ‘seriousness’ and importance. But remember that, at the same time, many of the subjects interviewed by the TRC belonged to subelite strata of society.

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