In exploring the nature of apologies, by asking why, when, for whom and considering the aftermath of apologies on socio-political interactions and expressions this project impacts on a range of beneficiaries. Those include:
1) Local, regional and national politicians that include a range of views across the political spectrum, with varied attitudes towards apologies
2) Charitable organisations working directly with those closest to the apology such as local community workers and inter-communal peace charities.
3) Activist groups who may be campaigning for an apology or alternatively may have received an apology and are continuing to campaign for other reparations.
4) Local, regional and national policy makers who have direct connections with debates on apologies
5) Broader societal discussion which feel the repercussions of the apology.
Since 2001, there have been significant apologies issued by states regarding historical wrongs. The timeliness of this project contemplates past, current and potential future apologies by exploring the ways in which apologies are created, given and received. Therefore, our contribution to this ongoing pertinent political, social and wellbeing issue is that we provide, for the first time, the scope to reflect from comparative international examples where apologies were issued and enable the five beneficiaries above to share and exchange knowledge in the forum that this project establishes.
For local, regional and national politicians, the benefit is achievable through a knowledge exchange event in Derry City. This will allow local, regional and national politicians from the UK and Ireland to bridge the gap between academia and practice and learn from other examples where apologies have been issued. For charitable organisations, the rewards of this project are two-fold: first, this project allows them to articulate and express the challenges of working with communities divided by apologies and secondly, this project facilitates lesson-sharing and knowledge exchange between organisations, but also between organisations and the other beneficiaries. There is a clear benefit from this project for activist groups, including those who have received apologies, and those who have not (as yet). The benefit will be based on knowledge exchange through this event but also through the study of the database that will be openly available.
For example, organisations that campaign for 'state apologies' for wrongs that are removed from present generations as a matter of decades or even centuries (e.g. - apologies for slavery in the Caribbean or for the Armenian pogroms in the Ottoman Empire) will be tested to consider the relationship, if any, between the apology and potential reparations. Does the apology represent an end unto itself or is it merely a vehicle for claims to be put for the deaths of ancestors, deprivation of property and/or crimes against humanity that will engage a range of politically, socially and legally difficult problems? Should reparations as a matter of practicality be time-limited? The project will engage with these organisations to conduct a self-reflective exercise by comparing their experiences with those others' and critique the expectations that they place upon official apologies in light of the conceptual issues to be explored in the networking workshop.
Finally, the project has a keen interest and capacity to engage with international media including Radio Liberty Armenia and BBC Northern Ireland. Our team comprise a experienced commentators on these media outlets and we will utilize these skills to improve the opportunities for wider public dissemination and engagement and thus contribute to ongoing debates and discussions about historical wrongs and apologies. This societal impact will be amplified through engagement with both news organisations and social media (e.g. - webpage blogging).
This project examines the functions and forms of apologies in dispute settlement and reconciliation processes concerning conflicts and traumas of both national and international scale. It challenges the notion of apologies for wrongdoing as providing a terminus to a linear dispute settlement process. It analyses case studies in which the apology, present and absent, forms a focal point in campaigns for recognition, remembrance and/or reconciliation. In connecting its inquiry to anniversaries of apologies in the twenty-first century, it contextualises its critique of linear temporality within the internal logics of apologies that propose a clear beginning and end date for the conflict.
The central aim of the project is to harvest data on official apologies and campaigns for official apologies in the 21st century in relation to their functions (why they are made) and modes (when and how). Utilising participant observation and focus group methodologies in addition to a critical review of secondary literature, the project will provide an update and a new critical assessment of the functions and modes of apologies in light of the experiences of the past fourteen years. In the process, its focus upon the role of temporality will probe the rationales (political, legal and sociological) for official apologies for historical wrongs in the contemporary zeitgeist.
The project poses the following research questions:
1. What are the forms of official apologies in the twenty-first century?
a. When and how are apologies made? For example, by what process (political, legal, diplomatic, social) are apologies mandated, by whom are they issued and to whom are they addressed?
b. What forms of language do apologies take? Are they connected to reparations or other 'material' redress or stand alone as 'moral' redress?
2. What are the functions of official apologies in the twenty-first century?
a. Why are they made? What are their ostensible purposes (remedy, reconciliation, commemoration, etc.)?
b. How are the apologies received by the addressees? How are they received by those not addressed who felt that they should have been addressed? Are there generational trends or differences in their reception?
As indicated in the project title, the project will examine apologies and campaigns for apologies in the twenty-first century (1 January 2001). Not only have apologies become more frequent in recent years but a number of milestones are approaching in relation to campaigns for recognition, apologies and reparation which provide the impetus for this project. Examples of apologies and campaigns in the twenty-first century include: the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on 25 March 2014, the 100th anniversary on 24 April 2015 of the pogroms against Ottoman Armenians, which are claimed to be 'genocide', the 5th anniversary on 15 June 2015 of the UK Government's apology for Bloody Sunday, and the 10th anniversary of the apology in Argentina on 24 March 2014 for disappeared civilians during the dictatorship.
This project will utilise these milestones as catalysts for its inquiry into the functions and modes of apologies. In so doing, its central focus of critiquing the utility of apologies as a linear culmination, termination and/or expiation of wrongdoing will permeate its comparative analysis of these case studies. The project will gather new primary data through participant observation and focus groups at the workshop with external participants, and will compile a database cataloguing the lead up, and reaction, to apologies through desktop analysis of online and archival primary sources such as newspapers, government documents, TRC, witness statements and campaign groups' materials. This will be supported by secondary source analysis and review of current literature on apologies of the past fourteen years.