“Hushed Voices”

Unlike widely reported genocides, such as those in Nazi Germany, Rwanda and Cambodia, some atrocities remain unacknowledged, are denied and excluded from history textbooks. Yet the buried past is important, not only because perpetrators of gross human rights violations should be held accountable, but also because victims and their descendants warrant recognition. Unacknowledged atrocities breed resentment; they taint the collective identity of a nation and cause divisions when future generations challenge the sanitized versions of history. Official silence about past misdeeds suggests complicity and promotes impunity. Above all, non-acknowledgement prevents learning from past injustices.

Unlike widely reported genocides, such as those in Nazi Germany, Rwanda and Cambodia, some atrocities remain unacknowledged, are denied and excluded from history textbooks. Yet the buried past is important, not only because perpetrators of gross human rights violations should be held accountable, but also because victims and their descendants warrant recognition. Unacknowledged atrocities breed resentment; they taint the collective identity of a nation and cause divisions when future generations challenge the sanitized versions of history. Official silence about past misdeeds suggests complicity and promotes impunity. Above all, non-acknowledgement prevents learning from past injustices.

Hushed Voices analyzes fifteen key cases of forgotten mass political violence from around the world. In Africa these include massacres in Zanzibar, the Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe, Biafra, the Algerian Harkis, and the Mau Mau anti-colonial rebellion; in the Middle East, the Armenian massacre in Turkey, the Palestinian Nakba and the Hama uprising in Syria are examined; in Asia, the book considers Suharto’s slaughter of half a million Indonesians, the actions of Imperial Japan and Gujarati Hindu nationalism; in Europe, the Ukrainian Holodomor, the Spanish Civil War, Dresden and the ethnic cleansing of Germans in Poland and Czechoslovakia after Word War II make up the case studies. Theories of ethnic conflict, reconciliation, truth commissions and post-conflict reconstruction are reviewed in the conclusion.

About the editor

Heribert Adam is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and also holds annual visiting appointments at the University of Cape Town. Born in Germany and educated at the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, he has published extensively on conflict resolution in divided societies. His books, co-authored with Kogila Moodley, include South Africa Without Apartheid (1986), The Opening of the Apartheid Mind (1993), Comrades in Business (1997) and Seeking Mandela: Peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians (2006).

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Seeking Mandela: Peacemaking Between Israelis and Palestinians

The ongoing violence, despair and paralysis among Israelis and Palestinians resemble the gloomy period in South Africa during the late 1980s. Heribert Adam and Kogila Moodley show that these analogies with South Africa can be applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for two purposes: to showcase South Africa as an inspiring model for a negotiated settlement and to label Israel a "colonial settler state" that should be confronted with strategies (sanctions, boycotts) similar to those applied against the apartheid regime. Because of the different historical and socio-political contexts, both assumptions are problematic. Whereas peacemaking resulted in an inclusive democracy in South Africa, the favored solution for Israel and the West Bank is territorial separation into two states.

Adam and Moodley speculate on what would have happened in the Middle East had there been what they call "a Palestinian Mandela" providing unifying moral and strategic leadership in the ethnic conflict. A timely, relevant look at the issues of a polarized struggle, Seeking Mandela is an original comparison of South Africa and Israel, as well as an important critique on the nature of comparative politics.

You may read the Preface and an exerpt from chapter 1 by clicking here.

Kogila Moodley is a sociologist at the University of British Columbia and was the first holder of the David Lam Chair. Raised in the Indian community of apartheid South Africa, her research is focused on critical multiculturalism, anti-racism education and citizenship. She has served as President of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Ethnic, Minority and Race Relations (1998-2002).

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