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The Ritual of Public Apology

This took place on 22 and 23 March in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Pol Cuvelier, Prof. Dr. Daniel Cuypers, Prof. Dr. Daniel Janssen, Prof. Dr. Jan Melissen, Prof. Dr. Christiane Timmerman and Prof. Dr. Jef Verschueren. On 22 March, Prof. Dr. Danielle CELERMAJER examined the political debate about Aboriginal children who have been taken away from their families for the purpose of assimilation. She analyzed the arguments both in favour and against this historical injustice and its normative surplus value for society.

Recent crises such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the sexual abuse cases in the Church, or the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster raise questions about the phenomenon of collective and public confession of guilt. Apology gains currency in politics, the corporate world, and diplomacy; it also becomes a tactical or strategic tool for managers, politicians, states, institutions, and NGOs. A collective apology often takes place under pressure from public opinion or the media, yet it easily degenerates into a ritual gesture without meaning. What conditions should a successful apology meet and what effects does it produce? The workshop brought together research from various scholarly disciplines on the ritual mechanism and the healing social effects of collective and public apologies.

Contributors: Danielle CELERMAJER (University Sydney), Raymond COHEN (Hebrew University Jerusalem), Timothy COOMBS (University Central Florida), Pol CUVELIER (University of Antwerp), Daniel CUYPERS (University of Antwerp), Daniel JANSSEN (University of Antwerp), Zohar KAMPF (Hebrew University Jerusalem), Jan MELISSEN (University of Antwerp and Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations), Nick SMITH (University New Hampshire), Jef VERSCHUEREN (University of Antwerp).

The contributions to this workshop will be published in July 2013: Public Apology between Ritual and Regret. Symbolic Excuses on False Pretenses or True Reconciliation out of Sincere Regret?

Open the photo album of this event

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