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Title: Memory, Forgiveness and Unfinished Justice in the Former Yugoslavia
Series/Date: Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies Vol.19, No.4, August 2017, p366-387
Source Origin: Commercial publisher/Media
Source Type: Blog/Journal/Series
ISSN: 1944-8953
Notes: Abstract:

Drawing its examples from the case of the former Yugoslavia, the paper explores the difficult intersections of justice, memory and forgiveness where the present bears the traces of a violent past of inter-communal conflict and mass crimes. It specifically delves into the limits of institutional attempts to respond in a redemptory and permanent manner to the claims for justice in a political community scarred by such a tormenting past.

It examines three judicial or semi-judicial manifestations of memory based on how they relate to the past(s) of the former Yugoslavia: (a) the punishment of the perpetrators, (b) the recognition of the crimes committed, and (c) forgetfulness in the name of peace and progress. Promoting reconciliation, governments often qualify a plea for forgiving as the last recourse to the impasse of institutional justice. At this fragile moment, forgiveness presents itself as a remedy for the impossibilities of institutional justice, without however fully evading the dangers of political expedience or the Western metaphysics of a ‘universal’ (Christian) ethos.

Discussing memory as a dimension of justice, the paper concludes that if this intricate bond remains unexamined, the possibility of forgiveness in the former Yugoslavia could hardly attain any political meaning or vigour.

The alternative to forgiveness, but by no means its opposite, is punishment … It is therefore quite significant, a structural element in the realm of human affairs, that men are unable to forgive what they cannot punish and that they are unable to punish what has turned out to be unforgivable.

(Hannah Arendt)1
Source URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19448953.2017.1280978
Homepage URL: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/
Subjects:  3.2 - Justice and Home Affairs
Geographic Indicators:  European Union
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