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Performance, Transitional Justice, and the Law: South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Catherine M. Cole
Theatre Journal
Vol. 59, No. 2 (May, 2007), pp. 167-187
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25070005
Page Count: 21
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Performance, Transitional Justice, and the Law: South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission
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Abstract

The word "performance" is often on the lips of scholars who write about truth commissions and international human rights law, yet performance and theatre studies scholars have not yet been central interlocutors in this discourse. The author charts a point of entry by examining a unique and defining feature of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC): its public, embodied, and performed dimensions. How did the TRC's performative conventions, modes of address, and expressive embodiment shape the experience for both participants and spectators? The author argues that the "completeness" of the vision of the apartheid past that the TRC was mandated to achieve can be discerned as vividly-if not more so-through detailed analyses of moments of performed testimony as it can through the macro-narratives and quantitative analyses that have so far dominated scholarship on the commission.

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