Professor Leigh Payne (Department of Sociology, University of Oxford)
Professor Paloma Aguilar (Department of Political Science, UNED)
What happens when state perpetrators publicly confess to human rights violations in past dictatorships? The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission considered them crucial to delivering on the promise of truth and reconciliation. But Payne's study of perpetrators' confessions within and outside such commissions challenges that assumption. She finds that perpetrators' versions of the past, not always the truth, emerge. She further contends that conflict, and not reconciliation, is the outcome of these confessions. This conflict is not necessarily negative for democracy. She argues that "contentious coexistence" puts fundamental democratic values of participation, contestation, and expression in practice. She sets out this argument in her book Unsettling Accounts. In this presentation she will present a study she has begun on confessions made by left-wing forces involved in violence. Do these confessions have the same impact of contentious coexistence? She explores this in the Spanish context, drawing from her book with Paloma Aguilar on Revealing New Truths about Spain's Violent Past and adds a comparative--Latin American--dimension.
Leigh A Payne is professor of Sociology and Latin America at St Antony's College, University of Oxford. She received her PhD in Political Science at Yale University. She is the author of books, book chapters, and articles on legacies of authoritarianism, transitional justice, and human rights. Her current work continues to develop the topic of confessions by state perpetrators' of violence from her Unsettling Accounts book. She is extending that project to a book project on confessions from members of the armed left, tentatively titled Left Unsettled. Her new work also involves research on corporate complicity in human rights violations in authoritarian and armed conflict periods.
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