Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gibney, et al.: The Age of Apology: Facing Up to the Past

Mark Gibney (Univ. of North Carolina, Asheville - Political Science), Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann (Wilfrid Laurier University - Global Studies & Political Science), Jean-Marc Coicaud (United Nations University), & Niklaus Steiner (Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) have published The Age of Apology: Facing Up to the Past (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press 2008). Here's the abstract:

In a turnabout of the cynical belief that might makes right, nations now see fit to issue apologies to peoples and countries they have wronged. We live in an age that seeks to establish political truth, perhaps best exemplified by the creation of truth commissions in societies seeking to emerge from dictatorial pasts. The most noteworthy result of these efforts has been the near-universal realization that a society will not be able successfully to pass into the future until it somehow deals with the horrors of its past.

A number of Western states and institutions have sought to come to terms with their relationships to non-Western states and peoples. Powerful actors and institutions are apologizing to the relatively powerless. What do these apologies mean? Are they an indication of a new international order, either politically or as they relate to international law? Or are these apologies fleeting and insignificant? In The Age of Apology twenty-two law, politics, and human rights scholars explore the legal, political, social, historical, moral, religious, and anthropological aspects of Western apologies in an attempt to answer these questions. Conversely, a nonapology might be as important to study, and several chapters discuss the absence or refusal of apology and how this might be interpreted.