The articles in this Special Issue of Time & Society provide a fascinating panorama of the range of factors responsible for the acknowledgement and remembrance of historical wrongs. The authors explore some of the means by which historical injustices are addressed, including apologies and reparations, and discuss how memories of ‘unquiet pasts’ (Torpey, 2003) are kept alive or revived – for example, in museums or through commemorative ceremonies. In what follows I do not revisit these issues in any detail. Instead, I draw attention to questions that could arise out of the conclusions drawn in the six articles and in the introduction, and query some of the implicit assumptions that underlie arguments made in this Special Issue. In other words, rather than concluding a discussion, I am trying to open it up by pointing towards potentially productive avenues for further research. The focus on why and when a historical wrong is addressed, acknowledged and/or remembered, which is common to most of the articles in this Special Issue – and indeed to much of the recent scholarship on issues of public memory and historical justice – has tended to entail close critical attention to the modalities and performance of redress and remembrance. The question of what qualifies a past to be considered a historical wrong in the first place has informed comparatively few scholarly analyses. There are two parts to an answer: the first has to do with the nature of the past, and the second with its relative distance. I do not intend to engage in any detail with the former, except by noting that wrongs are considered historical because of their symbolic purchase: an historical wrong is one of proportions that are either significant in themselves or considered exemplary, standing in for something bigger. The case study presented by Rommel Curaming and Syed Khairudin Aljunied provides a good example. The execution of Muslim recruits by their instructors on Corregidor Island in 1968, an event that became known as the Jabidah Massacre, has become a symbol for the suffering of Moro at the hands of the Philippines government, even though the number of victims was comparatively small. There is no objective scale that determines the effects a particular atrocity may have.
Field of Research
210399 Historical Studies not elsewhere classified 1608 Sociology
Socio Economic Objective
970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
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