Reconciliation and Justice

Bertold Bernreuter Discussion

Reconciliation and Justice
5th Intercultural Interdisciplinary Colloquium

polylog: Forum for Intercultural Philosophy
In cooperation with the Institute for Science and Art (IWK – Vienna),
the Viennese Society for Intercultural Philosophy (WiGiP),
the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Vienna,
and the Forum Scientiarum at the University of Tübingen
Vienna (Austria), 20–22 May 2015
From 20 to 22 May 2015, polylog: Forum for Intercultural Philosophy is organising its 5th Intercultural Interdisciplinary Colloquium on the topic of Reconciliation and Justice, hosted at the Institute for Science and Art in Vienna.
Since the 1990s, there has been a notable reception of the notion of reconciliation in political theory. While before it was conceived primarily as a moral and eschatological dimension in religious contexts, as well as it represents, on an individual level, a well-established concept in psychology, today the interest focuses more on its political potency; not least because of the implementation of a whole series of truth and reconciliation commissions, from Chile to South Africa, from Morocco to Sri Lanka and on to East Timor. The experiences gained there did not only change political practice, but also stimulated theoretical reflection. With this, the notion of reconciliation becomes situated in a new semantic context: for example, it is understood, beyond the personal level, as a way of coping with the past or as a method of conflict resolution with a national scope.
Crucial for this idea is the focus on the role of the concrete acting subjects, in their immediate concerns, social entanglements and ethical responsibilities, as persons and also as groups. As a kind of social cement for public welfare, person-oriented reconciliation is then undeniably superior to case-oriented justice, which is concerned with balancing divergent interests. As for the Western context, there exist few approaches to this notion of reconciliation in personal and communitarian orientation, particularly in some formulations of Jewish political thought, for example with Hermann Cohen or Hannah Arendt. Nevertheless, as of now reconciliation continues to be a less reflected upon concept. This is made painfully and impressively manifest, for instance, by its absence in many philosophical dictionaries.
There are plenty of open questions which demand clarification with regard to the possible role of the notion of reconciliation in political theory, especially in its relation to diverse conceptions of justice. Is it possible and does it make sense to expand local models of social community to society as a whole? How can reconciliation succeed on a national level? In the end, is reconciliation actually the right way? When might it possibly wrong to initiate an attempt at reconciliation? What preconditions allow reconciliation? What factors make it impossible? To what extent does the process of reconciliation include matters of justice? Do reconciliation and justice depend on each other, are they in contrast, or do they behave independently? How do political practices of reconciliation and justice differ in an intercultural sense? How relevant are the ideas of conscientisation, reparation and punishment to the processes of reconciliation and justice? What is the purpose of reconciliation and justice under the force of power politics?
The colloquium intends to create a space for the discussion of such issues with an intercultural orientation and it seeks to explore further the dimensions of reconciliation from a philosophical perspective, particularly as interconnected with the notion of justice.
Wednesday, 20 May 2015
Anke Graneß & Bertold Bernreuter
Anke Graneß (University of Vienna, Austria)
Theorizing on Reconciliation
Niels Weidtmann (University of Tübingen, Germany):
»Menschliche und kulturelle Würde als Voraussetzungen von interkultureller Versöhnung«
Christoper Peys (University of St Andrews, United Kingdom):
»Reconceptualizing reconciliation and justice: Repositioning the 'self' on a reconfigured spectrum of political power«
Sergej Seitz (University of Vienna, Austria):
»Gewalt, Vergebung und Gerechtigkeit: Drei Modi der Temporalität bei Emmanuel Levinas«
Francesco Ferrari (University of Jena, Germany):
»Archeology and teleology of reconciliation. Perspectives from Paul Ricœur«
Franziska Dübgen (University of Kassel, Germany):
»Limits to forgiveness?«
Reconciliation and Justice in Islam
Najwa Belkziz (University of Melbourne, Australia):
»Traditions of transitional justice in Islam«
Joint Dinner
Thursday, 21 May 2015
Reconciliation and Justice in Africa
Thaddeus Metz (University of Johannesburg, South Africa):
»An African theory of national reconciliation«
Jonathan Chimakonam (University of Calabar, Nigeria):
»Reconciliation versus justice in F. U. Okafor's Igbo-African jurisprudence and its relevance to modern political theory: A critical reflection«
James Ogude (University of Pretoria, South Africa):
»Shards of justice and arrested reconciliation in the aftermath of the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya«
Christine Schliesser (Zurich University, Switzerland):
»The case for transformative justice in reconciliation processes. An argument in view of post-genocide Rwanda«
Zen and Reconciliation
Ursula Baatz (University of Vienna, Austria):
»Zen in Auschwitz. Prozesse der Versöhnung im interreligiösen und interkulturellen Kontext«
Bernadette Casu (University of Innsbruck, Austria):
»The aspect of forgiveness in reconciliation processes. A journey into the world of non-duality in Zen Buddhism«
Keynote Address
Gail Presbey (University of Detroit Mercy, USA):
»Odera Oruka and Mohandas Gandhi on reconciliation«
Friday, 22 May 2015
Reconciliation and Justice in Japan
Naoko Kumagai (International University of Japan, Japan):
»Absence of guilt in Japan's reconciliation with former Korean comfort women«
Reconciliation and Justice in Latin America
Josefina Echavarría Alvarez (University of Innsbruck, Austria):
»The art of social healing in Colombia«
Bertold Bernreuter (National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico):
»Versöhnung und Widerstand. Chancen und Grenzen indigener Gerechtigkeits­konzeptionen in Mexiko«
Final discussion
Close of the colloquium
The colloquium takes place at the Institute for Science and Art in Vienna. It is located within a 8 minutes walking distance from the underground station "Schottentor" or a minute from tramway stop "Schlickgasse" (Line D).
Institute for Science and Art –  Institut für Wissenschaft und Kunst (IWK)
Berggasse 17/1
A-1090 Wien
Tel./Fax: +43 1 3174342
Participation is free. No advance registration is necessary.
Anke Graneß (University of Vienna)
Bertold Bernreuter (National Autonomous University of Mexico)
Niels Weidtmann (University of Tübingen)
Dr. Anke Graneß
Institute of Philosophy
University of Vienna
Universitätsstr. 7 (NIG)
A-1010 Wien
Tel.: +43 1 4277-46475
Fax: +43 1 4277-846475
Conference website: