Difficult pasts in Germany and South Africa

This British Academy-funded project initiated research collaborations between researchers in the UK and South Africa working on trauma, reconciliation and reparation. We started from the premise that German Nazism and Afrikaner nationalism set in train political projects that were informed by the desire to set right perceived historical injustices against their respective communities, as well as by an overdetermined race consciousness. Although the outcomes of these projects were very different in scale and degree, both resulted in widespread discrimination and injustice. In order to restore their futures, Germans and Afrikaner had to come to terms with their political failures, and seek reconciliation with their victims and take decisive steps towards a post-racial identity based on mutual recognition of the former perpetrators and victims. Against this background, our project explored points of contact, and contrast, between the ways the ‘perpetrator past’ is being dealt with in contemporary German and Afrikaner culture.