Truth Commission Discourse and the Aesthetics of Reconciliation

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Truth Commissions have come to be regarded as a turning point for post-conflict and post-authoritarian states in transition. In this article, I argue that truth commission testimony, broadly defined to include artistic, cultural, and media productions, must be experienced as forms of affective materiality over discursive inscription. Using as an instrumental case study the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2008–2015), I conceptualize testimony as a necessary re-fictionalization of the past, present, and future of a nation. The truth commission discourse, especially in Canada, works to protect the perpetrators by (1) disallowing their identities from entering into the public record, and (2) creating bystanders out of those perpetrators that allows for an innocent and ineffective witnessing. The push for forgiveness harnesses an imperative for truth commissions to idealize and idolize the emotional moment of testimony. It is imperative to resist the spectacle of confession and testimony. But the witness must not be discarded. The witness must be found in those cultural institutions beyond truth commission events to include the aesthetics of reconciliation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)728-743
    Number of pages16
    JournalLaw, Culture and the Humanities
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct. 2019


    • Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
    • testimony
    • transitional justice
    • voice


    Dive into the research topics of 'Truth Commission Discourse and the Aesthetics of Reconciliation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this