A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Ph.D. at George Mason University.
Chair of Dissertation Committee:
Dr. Chris R. Mitchell,
Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Summer Semester 1999
George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
This dissertation was made possible thanks to funding provided by the Jennings Randolph Program of the United States Institute of Peace as well as scholarships provided by George Mason University.
Hugo van der Merwe is a Project Manager in the Transition and Reconciliation Programme at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Prelim Pages (pdf 30KB)
1. Introduction (pdf 58 KB)
2. Reconciliation: The Theoretical Context (pdf 194 KB)
7. Research Methodology (pdf 138 KB)
10. Principles of Reconciliation (pdf 153 KB)
11. Ideological Frames of Reconciliation (pdf 104 KB)
13. Conclusions (pdf 72 KB)
Appendices (pdf116 KB)
Bibliography (pdf 57 KB)
|ANC||– African National Congress|
|ANCYL||– ANC Youth League|
|AWB||– Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement)|
|COSAS||– Congress of South African Students|
|CPF||– Community Police Forum|
|CSVR||– Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation|
|IFP||– Inkatha Freedom Party|
|KP (CP)||– Conservative Party|
|MK||– Umkhonto we Sizwe (military wing of the ANC)|
|NGO||– Non-Governmental Organization|
|NP||– National Party|
|RDP||– Reconstruction and Development Programme (official government policy paper outlining development priorities)|
|SACC||– South African Council of Churches|
|SACP||– South African Communist Party|
|SANCO||– South African National Civic Association|
|SDU||– Self Defense Unit (ANC aligned structure)|
|SPU||– Self Protection Unit (IFP aligned structure)|
South African Terms
|Askaris||– ex-MK members who became state operatives|
|civic||– local community organization that mobilized residents around local political issues in the 1980s, generally with claims of not being affiliated to particular political parties but generally seen as ANC-aligned|
|Comrades||– young political activists affiliated to the ANC|
|Induna||– Zulu word for traditional leaders – held political power in the IFP|
|township||(or location, or community) terms which all refer to African residential neighborhood (sometimes it is used simply as a geographic term, but often also with the connotation of a sense of community among its residents)|
|African, white, coloured, Indian are used in the text to refer to the various population groups differentiated by the apartheid government. The term "black" is used to refer collectively to Africans, coloureds and Indians – those subjected to racial discrimination by the state.|
The central thesis of this dissertation is that reconciliation is a process that is subject to competing agendas, and that this contentiousness has implications for the legitimacy of community reconciliation initiatives. Rather than treating reconciliation as a process that can be impartially pursued by third parties in a conflict situation, this study problematizes the term through exploring how the concept of reconciliation is given different meanings by different stakeholders. The key tension examined in this study is between top-down and bottom-up conceptualizations of community reconciliation.
Through empirical research, it is argued that the different conceptualizations of reconciliation are based on a range of different experiences, interests and cultures, but are most effectively understood as competing ideological frameworks. Rather than acting as a force for greater social stability, the pursuit of reconciliation in the South African context is revealed as a process that highlights fundamental differences regarding values and goals of social order and inter-group relations held by different parties. By focusing on the issue of justice as a component of the reconciliation process, the study explores the competing justice strategies that arise from the varying ideological frames that characterized the debate about transitional justice and the TRC.
The empirical research focuses on the intervention role of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the reconciliation processes of two communities in South Africa: Duduza and Katorus. The engagement of communities with the TRC's intervention processes highlights how different stakeholders understand and envision the reconstruction of cooperative relationships in society. Using semi-structured interviews with TRC staff and members from a range of community stakeholders, the research employed a comparative study approach to examine various factors impacting on the different conceptualizations of reconciliation. Key independent factors considered were: local community context, political identity and stakeholder identity (victim, ex-combatant, community leader and TRC staff).
The research demonstrates that the approach of the TRC was one that was heavily weighted towards a top-down orientation to reconciliation at the national level which contrasted with the conceptualization of reconciliation by community members who view it as a process that should be oriented around local community dynamics.
Copyright 1999 Hugo van der Merwe
All Rights Reserved