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Director of Tutu Centre speaks at International Affairs Conference

0120 Ms Stefanie Kappler Thursday 4 June 2015

Dr Stefanie Kappler, Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Director of the Desmond Tutu Centre for War and Peace Studies, presented at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs seminar on memory, power and reconciliation after conflict.

The seminar looked at how memory politics is used to both legitimate and contest claims to power. What we choose to remember and what to forget determines how we understand the present and how we form decisions for the future. What narratives are public? What is silenced? Can commemoration strengthen peace and reconciliation?

The seminar highlighted:

  • South Africa’s struggle with its apartheid past and the question of how the commemoration of violence can do justice to all its victims.  
  • How the remembrance of Japan’s war in Asia influences the relationship between Japan and China.
  • How remembrance practices in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda are highly gendered, as men and women’s experiences of war crimes are remembered differently.

Constructing memorials means taking economic and political decision; as Dr. Kappler asked about each of the memorial sites in South Africa, "this memory is constructed for whom and constructed by whom?" Who defines the content of collective memory and how it should or should not be remembered? 

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