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Project: The Politics of Apologies

Within the past few years several Western states have acknowledged and apologized for "wrongs" committed in the past. Even more recently, international organizations, i.e. the United Nations, have taken steps to recognize their responsibility in mishandling humanitarian crises and have come to apologize to the victims (Srebrenica, Rwanda). This apology phenomenon can be viewed within the context of a larger international effort to seek and establish the truth - best exemplified by truth commissions in countries emerging from dictatorial rule. In many ways, the politics of apology has become the Western version of the truth commission. The project will study the attempts to "come to terms" with the past, and what this might mean in terms of the political, economic and ethical relationship between the West (Western states and Western-minded international organizations) and countries from the periphery.