Taking Responsibility for the Past: Theoretical and Educational Considerations, Illustrated by South African Experience

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


In different post-conflict societies, historical justice has been approached as socially restorative or, alternatively, as judicially retributive processes. In post-apartheid South Africa, the restoration of the society was pursued by applying liberal ‘rainbowism’ to the parties of the conflict, the Blacks and the Afrikaners. The protocols of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (1995–1997) provide an authentic record of the social memory of apartheid among the Blacks and the Afrikaners. The author analyzes the protocols with the aim of making explicit the ethical concepts used by the addressers to frame their ethical judgments of the past. In history education, the concepts would support reasoned ethical judgment, as defined by Peter Seixas, as a domain of historical thinking. The reconciliatory purpose of recognizing the adverse ethical judgments of the past by the Blacks and the Afrikaners was maintained, until history education in the 2000s became exposed to the radicalization of the social atmosphere. The author analyzes the pressures caused on history education by the substitution of liberal ‘rainbowism’ with radical post-colonial Africanization.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistorical Justice and History Education
EditorsMatilda Keynes, Henrik Åström Elmersjö, Daniel Lindmark, Björn Norlin
Number of pages19
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-70411-7
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-70412-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences

Cite this