Of Memory and Justice: Revising History as an Act of Justice


Although Aristotle has maintained that memory 'is of the past,' yet, it does not belong solely in the past, as it can bring the past forward into the present. As Booth explains in Communities of Memory: On Witness, Identity, and Justice, memory 'is woven into the continuity that we call identity__¶into our practices of justice' (x). It is these practices of justice, or rather, the practices of injustice, that the current paper will discuss by focusing on Michelle Cliff's novel, Free Enterprise, and on the film adaptation of Andre Brink's A Dry White Season. Similar to Booth, I do not approach memory as a psychological phenomenon but as a concept bearing political implications and having a central role in the formation of identity. Questions of 'whose justice?' or 'justice for whom?' will be discussed, as the texts very aptly highlight how memory can be used 'to justify crimes__¶ yet it is [also] central to the pursuit of justice' (Booth, Ix). Indeed, both the novel and the film become a site of struggle against the omissions mandated by what Peterson calls 'the rules of safe politics.' Starting from this premise, I will attempt to consider the ramifications that the remembrance of the past has for the recuperation of justice in the case of people whose voice and story have been stifled by the dominant historical narratives.

Author Information
Chrysavgi Papagianni, Zayed University, UAE

Paper Information
Conference: IICAHDubai2016
Stream: Humanities - Ethnicity, Difference, Identity

This paper is part of the IICAHDubai2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon