Idit Alphandary is a CRASSH Visiting Fellow whose fellowship in 2020 was interrupted by the pandemic. She will now resume her fellowship at CRASSH from July to September 2022.
I first got the idea for my book when I read a subchapter – “Irreversibility and the Power to Forgive” – in Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition. Arendt’s analysis of forgiveness is strongly tied to her understanding of love. I was overwhelmed by how difficult it was for her to decide if forgiveness and love are only interpersonal affects, or if they can propel changes in the spheres of social life and politics. Arendt sought to protect forgiveness and love from being corrupted by the public sphere. In doing so she kept them bounded to the life of the couple, of the family. She argues that forgiveness is eminently personal because, like love, it focuses on the who – who commits the evil deed – and not on the what – the deed itself. The ability to focus on the humanity of the offender, not to fall into an economy of vengeance or reprisal, gives rise to forgiveness. Currently I believe in the necessity of non-conforming, minoritarian acts against envy, superstition, and hatred, which are the forces that propel cultures to commit crimes against humanity. From the willingness to risk one’s life for the restitution of equality or justice, I learn that love and forgiveness are most relevant to restoring integrity to social and political life. They bind people together through emotional recognition, and question the discourse of power, judgment, and punishment.
Idit Alphandary (PhD, Yale University, 2001), is Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature at Tel Aviv University. She has taught at universities in the United States, Europe, and China and has edited two books of scholarly research. Her work has appeared in numerous scholarly journals.