Nancy Scheper-Hughes



Undoing: Social Suffering and the Politics of Remorse in the New South Africa

Based on Nancy Scheper-Hughes’s extended 1993 trip to South Africa, during which she observed and, to some degree, participated, she offers an anthropological reflection on social suffering, remorse, forgiveness, and reconciliation, focusing on a single ethnographic instance: violence and recovery in the context of the new, post-apartheid, post-police state, democratic South Africa. Scheper-Hughes provides a reflection on the morally ambiguous task of “making sense” of suffering: one’s own and the suffering of others. Among other questions, she asks: How are memories and emotions structured and deployed in the various processes of recovery, especially in the personal narratives of those who suffered the violence and those who were the direct agents or passive collaborators in the violence?

South Africa — truth and reconciliation commission, South Africa — violence, violence — South Africa

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 25, No. 4 (1998): 114-142