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Shannon Lecture #5: Truth and Reconciliation Commissions: Canada in Transnational Comparison with Dr. Bonny Ibhawoh of McMaster University

November 27, 2020 at 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM


Friday, November 27, 2020 at 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

headshot of Bonny Ibhawoh

Truth Commissions and the Politics of Collective Memory

with Dr. Bonny Ibhawoh
Department of History |Centre for Peace Studies
McMaster University

Senator William McMaster Chair in Global Human Rights
United Nations Special Procedures Expert on the Right to Development
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights



In the age of human rights, states are increasingly seeking truth and reconciliation to address contemporary abuses and historical injustices. From South Africa’s post-apartheid TRC to Canada’s Residential School TRC, we are witnessing a shift from the dominance of retributive transitional justice toward new models of restorative justice. The popularity of truth commissions also reflects the resurgence of memory politics and the increasing challenge of the nation-state’s hegemony over history. This paper examines the politics and contestations over collective memory in the work of truth commissions.

Speaker Bio

Bonny Ibhawoh is Professor and Senator William McMaster Chair in Global Human Rights at McMaster University, Canada. He is a legal historian who has taught in universities in Africa, Europe and North America. Previously, he was a Human Rights Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs, New York, and Research Fellow at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Copenhagen. He is the author Imperial Justice (Oxford University Press) and Human Rights in Africa (Cambridge University Press). Dr. Ibhawoh is a member of the College of Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada and Chairs the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development.