Writing Past Wrongs? Justice, Transition and Literature
Date: Monday, 17 October 2016
Time: 6:30 – 8:00pm
Venue: CLM.2.05, 2nd floor, Clement House, LSE
Speaker: Michael Newman, LMU/NYU
Discussant: Ruti Teitel, NYLS/LSE
Chair: Iavor Rangelov, LSE
What is lost when past atrocities are addressed through a set of processes and procedures and transitional justice becomes confined to the spheres of politics and law? And what might be gained when the artistic and intellectual resources of literature are harnessed to interrogate injustice, transition and justice? In his new book, Six Authors in Search of Justice: Engaging with Political Transitions, Michael Newman explores such questions through a discussion of the lives and works of six writers: Victor Serge in Stalinist Russia, Albert Camus in Vichy France, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o in colonial and post-colonial Kenya, Jorge Semprún in Spain under Franco, Ariel Dorfman in Chile under Pinochet, and Nadine Gordimer in apartheid South Africa. Each lived under a brutal regime, took substantial risks in order to contribute to its overthrow, and survived a transition to a new regime. Each thought deeply about the evolving situation with viewpoints derived from a combination of lived experience and intellectual and artistic creation.
This event will discuss the largely neglected cultural dimension of transitional justice. It will consider how literature can often reveal forms of oppression that may be ‘invisible’ in social science and how its insights can enrich our understanding of the issues that transitional justice seeks to address.
Michael Newman is Emeritus Professor of Politics at London Metropolitan University and now teaches at New York University in London. His previous books include Humanitarian Intervention: Confronting the Contradictions (2009), Socialism: A Very Short Introduction (2005), and Ralph Miliband and the Politics of the New Left (2002).
Ruti Teitel is the Ernst C. Stiefel Professor of Comparative Law at New York Law School and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics. Her previous books include Globalizing Transitional Justice (2014), Humanity’s Law (2012), and Transitional Justice (2000).
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