Project Details
Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
Project Number : 12614422
Project Title(English) : Reconciliation and Its Resentments: The Suppression of Justice and Truth Recovery in Germany, Northern Ireland, and Western Balkans 
Project Title(Chinese) : 和解及其怨憤:在德國、北愛爾蘭和西巴爾幹半島對尋求正義和真相的壓抑 
Principal Investigator(English) : Dr Chung, C. K. Martin 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) : 鍾子祺 
Department : Department of Government and International Studies
Institution : Hong Kong Baptist University
Co - Investigator(s) :
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Social and Behavioural Sciences
Exercise Year : 2022 / 23
Fund Approved : 697,824
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 31-12-2026
Abstract as per original application
In his seminal work, Civilisation and Its Discontents (1930), Sigmund Freud challenges the near-universal espousal of civilisation (die Kultur) as a virtue and social process, while ignoring the great costs and sacrifices that such a project demands. The over-suppression of deep-seated human needs renders the otherwise humanity-serving endeavour a source of unnecessary suffering for those who “fail” to be civilised. The “discontent” (das Unbehagen) or dissatisfaction with such a condition is thus expressed as an earnest call for the reform of civilisation. In the past three decades or so, there has also been a sustained effort to promote “reconciliation” among historical enemies around the globe, not the least by the European Union, whose self-identity as a peacebuilder and model reconciler in regional conflicts has been buttressed by the Nobel Peace Prize of 2012. Yet, there has also been growing resentment among those – not the least within Europe itself – directly affected by the project of reconciliation, whose needs for justice and for truth have time and again been sacrificed in the name of peace and mercy. Like the “uncivilised”, the unreconciled are subject to social pressure to let go or to feel the guilt imposed upon them for “blocking” society from moving forward. As they say in Northern Ireland, “Reconciliation is a dirty word” (McEvoy et al. 2006). Such discontents and resentments with regard to political reconciliation and their sources are the subject of the proposed four-year project. Built upon its principal investigator’s previous and ongoing work on “coming to terms with the past” in different regional contexts, the project takes seriously the lingering “resentments” and “nasty unreconcilability” (Améry 1966: 115) of victims and survivors of atrocities committed in Europe in the last century. It investigates the nature of such resentments at political reconciliation in selected post-conflict European cases. Using process tracing and triangulated comparative historical analysis, the project examines the cases of reunified Germany, post-accord Northern Ireland and the disintegrated former Yugoslavia to theorise on “premature reconciliation” and “false reconciliation” as the twin mutations of the otherwise commendable enterprise that are responsible for lingering resentments of victims and survivors of past atrocities. In terms of impact beyond academic outputs (e.g. in International Journal of Transitional Justice, Journal of Peace Research), the project endeavours to contribute to the discussion on “reconciliation” in Hong Kong where the abuse and misuse of the concept have likewise aroused reservation (Shen 2020).
弗洛伊德在其名著《文明及其不滿》(Das Unbehagen in die Kultur, 1930) 中挑戰人們對文明 (die Kultur) 作為一種美德和社會過程的推崇,卻忽略了這樣的一個項目所需的巨大成本和犧牲。過度壓抑人類根深蒂固的需求使這場為人類效力的努力成為那些 “未成功” 變得文明的人不必要的痛苦來源。因此,對這狀況的 “不滿” (das Unbehagen) 就成為對文明改革的熱切呼求。 在過去約三十年的時間裹,亦有一股堅持不懈的努力去促進全球不同歷史仇敵之間的 “和解” (reconciliation),當中不可或缺的,是歐盟的努力。2012 年的諾貝爾和平獎進一步強化了歐盟作為地區和平建設者和 “和解模範” 的自我身份認同。然而,那些直接受到和解項目影響的人 –– 包括身處歐洲的這些人 –– 也越來越不滿,因為他們對正義和真相的需求一次又一次地在和平與慈愛的名義中被犧牲。與 “未文明” 的人一樣,“未和解” 的人也感到社會壓力要放手,否則便要因 “阻礙” 社會前進而感到加緒於其身上的罪疚感。正如在北愛爾蘭有人說:“和解是一個骯髒的詞”。 這種對政治和解的不滿和怨憤及它們的根源正是本四年研究項目的主題。此項目建基於其首席研究員之前和正在進行的、針對 “面對過去” (coming to terms with the past) 在不同區域背景下的研究工作上,認真看待二十世紀在歐洲犯下的暴行的受害者和倖存者揮之不去的 “怨憤” (resentments) 和 “不可修和性” (unreconcilability)。它聚焦三個在歐洲的後衝突個案,研究這種對政治和解的怨憤的本質。這研究項目以過程追蹤法和三角比較歷史分析法,考察統一後的德國、簽訂和平協議後的北愛爾蘭和解體後的西巴爾幹半島,以建立理論解釋為何 “未成熟的和解” 以及 “假和解” 作為本應值得推祟的政治和解的雙生突變,是受害者和倖存者的怨憤根源。就學術成果以外的影響而言,此項目致力於為香港關於 “和解” 的討論作出貢獻 –– “和解” 概念的濫用和誤用同樣導致這地方的人們對和解存疑。
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