Association for Feminist Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
In The Atrocity Paradigm, Card (2002) poses an important question: “How can we break the chain of evil … an unquenchable desire that traps people in cycles of revenge…and escalation?” While Arendt sees forgiveness as freeing “from its consequences both forgiver and forgiven” (1958: 241) — although admitting exceptions for forgivable; Norlock and Rumsey notes that forgiveness is often a cruel, torturous fantasy, because “it remains out of reach for most ordinary humans" (190). Schott, instead, argues for “ethical repair,” denouncing any forgiveness to atrocities (2004: 206). But consider that often “[v]ictims and perpetrators must coexist in civil society” (Schott 2004: 210). Or, consider the offender continuously glorifies the potential act of atrocity? I look at the Japanese anti-nuclear peace movement as a referent point and I observe how the sufferer practiced the reverence toward the offender in the apparent absence of hate or anger, despite the unfathomable and unbearable pains. Forgiveness here does not anticipate the offender’s apology. It may be an attempt at personal empowerment (Herman 1997). However, to show reverence seems beyond the concept of empowerment. It must come from the location of what bell hooks calls ‘love ethics’. As such, in the height of the movement, victims’ voices seemed to have overcome the distance and reached the millions of minds internationally. My question here is: of what is that forgiveness phenomenologically constituted when it respects the offender? In what form of power and efficacy can such forgiveness manifest if combined with ‘love ethics’?