Chapter

Ethnic Symbolism and Official Apologies<sup>1</sup>

Jacob T. Levy

in The Multiculturalism of Fear

Published in print August 2000 | ISBN: 9780198297123
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599767 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198297122.003.0009
Ethnic Symbolism and Official Apologies1

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Examines symbolic ethnic politics: the politics of place names, group names, national symbols, official apologies, and other matters that do not affect the rights or resources of any particular persons. Such symbolism is important in ethnic politics, and a theory with nothing to say about it is unsatisfactory. Disputes over symbolic issues, however, are poorly suited to compromise and easily escalate into rallying points for wider conflicts. In addition, it is often impossible to meet the symbolic demands of all groups simultaneously. The chief constraint on symbolic politics should be non‐humiliation and the avoidance of the celebration of past injustices and violence, a standard that can be met for all groups simultaneously. Official apologies in particular are considered at length; they are defended against the charges of collective guilt and anachronism, but are found to be limited by considerations including the passage of time and institutional discontinuities.

Keywords: collective responsibility; group names; intergenerational responsibility; national symbols; non‐humiliation; official apologies; place names; reparations; state speech; symbolism

Chapter.  12093 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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