Reconciliation in Settler-Colonial States: A Study of the Political Apology

Image Caption: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologizes to the First Nations, the indigenous people who, for over one hundred years of settler-colonialism, suffered from family separation and abuse at the hand of colonial and post-colonial authorities.


Introduction

In a 2016 speech in Hiroshima, former United States President Obama brought a message of peace and a call for a “moral awakening” for humanity.[1] However, for a trip laden with symbolic gestures, such as the laying of a wreath memorializing Japanese nuclear bomb victims, a political apology was conspicuously missing; prior to the trip, it was made clear that Obama would not be apologising for his country dropping an atomic bomb on the city.[2] non-apologetic stance despite demands from Japanese nuclear survivors hints at the significance attached to this symbolic gesture[3].

Despite a well-deserved reputation for being stingy with apologies, the U.S. congress did issue one in 2009. Buried in a 67-page defence appropriation spending bill was an “apology” towards particular American indigenous communities “for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted” on them.[4] Understandably, members of the Navajo Nation were unimpressed with the “apology,” citing its lack of publicity and open acknowledgement.[5] This episode further illustrates the importance of not only an apology, but also a proper apology[6] to indigenous victims of settler-colonial violence. The Obama administration eventually ended in January 2017 without any significant mention of this “apology.”

Cynics decry the political apology as “mere ritual,”[7] citing its impracticality in mending intergroup relations, since it often lacks a material dimension. Stories like this remind us otherwise: in politics, symbolic gestures matter. Hence, rather than accept the principle that political apologies are ineffective, this piece questions the role that political apologies play in the reconciliation process in settler-colonial states. With this as my primary research question, I demonstrate the symbolic contributions of the political apology towards achieving holistic reconciliation.

  • The Argument

I will first make the case for the normative importance of reconciliation in settler-colonial states. To redress settler-colonial injustices, scholars have proposed different approaches. Some argue for decolonization, claiming that reconciliation acts as a façade for assimilation, as indigenous communities are forcibly co-opted into the existing status quo[8]. However, by adopting a conceptualisation of reconciliation as a state of “mutual respect,”[9] I will illustrate how assimilation is not an inevitable outcome of this process.

The second part of my argument details how the political apology acts as a reconciliatory tool. Through acts of acknowledgement, symbolic breaking, and inclusion, I argue that the political apology contributes symbolically to the reconciliation process between settler and indigenous communities. While I do not dispute that material reparations are important in addressing settler-colonial injustices, I assert that such symbolic reparations are equally necessary for a holistic outcome. I argue that the political apology creates symbolic equity and represents a commitment to ending injustice, thus addressing the implications of settler-colonialism in part and facilitating non-assimilatory reconciliation.

  • Methods

Through conducting a detailed textual analysis of theoretical and empirical studies, this paper will identify some of the broad disagreements in the field to propose empirically-grounded conceptualisations of reconciliation and the political apology. Focusing on settler-colonial states, this paper will draw heavily on examples from Australia and Canada as both governments have successfully made non-assimilatory apologies to their indigenous communities for similar cultural policies. I will examine these apologies and study indigenous reactions found in secondary scholarship to ascertain their symbolic contributions to the reconciliation process.

  • Definitions

To make sense of my argument, it is first necessary to define some of the key terms. Settler-colonial states, the universe within which my argument operates, refer to countries where white settlers historically displaced and eliminated indigenous communities to ensure their own survival and reproduction.[10] In response to the historical legacy of the injustices committed against the indigenous people, I propose that reconciliation is a desirable approach.

While some define it as complete intergroup harmony, this article will use a third-way approach where reconciliation is conceived as a state of “mutual respect.”[11] This conceptualisation acknowledges that while disagreements might remain, there can still be space for dialogue between former adversaries as long as reconciliation takes place on mutually agreed terms. The political apology is thus useful in facilitating this process. This paper conceives of the political apology as a ritual:[12] while it does not strictly take a textual format, it does not include actions such as monetary compensation. This definition allows us to capture the symbolic value of the political apology independent of other material dimensions[13].

  • Structure

The second chapter will begin with a critical examination of existing literature to understand what other scholars have said about settler-colonialism, the normative importance of reconciliation, and the use of the political apology in this process. As current scholarship has largely ignored the normative importance of reconciliation in favour of post-colonial theories that support decolonization,[14] this paper will attempt to correct this misunderstanding. Beyond that, I will also assert the claim that the political apology is valuable even if it does not lead to material outcomes as scholars tend to overlook its symbolic contributions[15].

The third chapter will then set the context of settler-colonialism by going over the type of policies instituted by settler governments and the grievances faced by indigenous peoples under settler colonialism. It will explain why reconciliation is not only an appropriate, but also a desirable response to these injustices. Having established reconciliation’s normative importance in settler-colonial states, the fourth chapter will delve deeper into the definition and characteristics of the political apology. This chapter will synthesise varied findings into a coherent framework and illustrate the differences between intergroup and interpersonal apologies, which I argue are key to understanding the symbolic utility of the political apology. The fifth chapter will further expound on this insight and tie the preceding chapters together by demonstrating how political apologies facilitate reconciliation through addressing settler-colonial implications.

2. Literature Review

The scholarship that informs my argument can be broadly categorised into three themes. Constituting the context of my paper, the first section will discuss the characteristics of settler-colonialism and the type of policies that have been implemented by settler governments on the indigenous community. The second section will elaborate on the different reconciliation theories posited by scholars in addressing indigenous grievances and discuss the disagreements in the field on the need for settler governments to adopt such an approach. Lastly, the third section will illustrate some of the common arguments used both in support and opposition of the political apology, critique the disparate definitions employed by various scholars, and from there distil an appropriate understanding of it.

2.1 On Settler-Colonialism

Contemporary scholarship describes settler-colonialism as an institution that was built on a policy of dispossession;[16] settlers dispossessed the indigenous people of their land through violent tactics that have been described as “genocidal,”[17] and they have replaced them with their own colonies. LeFevre differentiates settler-colonialism from colonialism, arguing that the former is “premised on occupation,” while the latter is about “conquest.”[18] Wolfe terms this process as the “elimination of the native,”[19] but goes deeper by expounding on the “positive” dimensions of this elimination:[20]  it does not merely destroy indigenous societies, it also builds “a new colonial society on expropriated land base.”[21] Such settler-colonial policies are culturally consistent,[22] and they include, but are not limited, to territorial removal and religious conversion.

Additionally, some scholars have noted the enduring nature of settler-colonialism as an institution. Bonds and Inwood argue that settler colonialism is an “ongoing historicized process rather than an historical fact,”[23] suggesting that the consequences of such policies continue to be experienced today. Altogether, these studies provide a greater understanding of the policies employed by settler governments and the ongoing nature of settler colonialism.

2.2 On Reconciliation

The scholarship on reconciliation is divided. Critics claim that reconciliation does not better the conditions of indigenous communities but perpetuates the domination of settlers under the guise of promoting indigenous welfare. Edmonds terms this the “cunning of reconciliation,”[24] drawing upon the example of Australia where she claims indigenous people were coerced into reconciling with the settlers despite not receiving “substantial land rights” among other demands.[25] Moses acknowledges this post-colonial critique where reconciliation is viewed as a “sinister attempt to integrate Aborigines into the broader national community.”[26]

While indeed reconciliation can be used for hegemonic purposes, these critiques often fail to acknowledge that reconciliation is desirable for two groups that must share a political space,[27] particularly in settler-colonial states where cultures have hybridized and produced new shared identities. Verdeja begins with this normative premise and identifies the various theories on reconciliation as promoting a “morally acceptable coexistence” among perpetrator and victim groups.[28] He highlights communitarian and agonist approaches: the former conceives of reconciliation as an apolitical socially harmonious order where former adversaries agree on shared values,[29] while the latter is more pessimistic about complete social harmony but argues that conflictual relations can be transformed through a reconciliation process that is not based on consensus, but instead on “contestation” over shared discourses and identities.[30]

Verdeja puts forth his own third-way approach to reconciliation as a state of mutual respect “that does not simply reinforce the values”[31] of the majority culture. He acknowledges the scepticism of agonists towards communitarian reconciliation but also disagrees with their overt emphasis on power relations, which he claims reduces “norms and values to expressions of power” and “risks undermining the possibility of defending any normative criteria for political reconciliation.”[32]  Thus, Verdeja proposes “mutual respect” as a criterion to “distinguish between normatively defensible versions of reconciliation that advance the claims of indigenous groups versus those that privilege state power and majority culture.”[33] My argument for reconciliation derives from Verdeja’s measured approach, as he considers both the normative importance of reconciliation and its practical limits.

2.3 On Political Apologies

Some scholars argue that the political apology, a symbolic reparation, can be instrumental in facilitating reconciliation between settlers and indigenous people. For example, Murphy insists on the utility of the apology in mending the divide between different communities and providing an opportunity for reconciliation.[34] Similarly, Andrieu also posits that an apology that is followed by forgiveness will lead to reconciliation.[35] However, some disagree. One common accusation is that the political apology is a “mere ritual”[36] that does not address the true concerns of indigenous people which are material in nature, such as the return of their territory.[37] Another concern similar to the criticisms levelled against the notion of reconciliation claims that the apology is a “monologue”[38] that does not consider indigenous desires and coerces forgiveness.[39] Importantly, these disagreements take place at the theoretical level. Empirically, most studies concur on the utility of the political apology in facilitating reconciliation. For instance, Mellor et al. found, through conducting interviews with indigenous people, that an apology was important to them as the first step of reconciliation,[40] giving us ground to believe that the political apology contributes positively to this process despite the lack of a material dimension.

Secondly, scholars also disagree on what constitutes the political apology. For some, especially those with a linguistics background, the apology is merely a speech act.[41] Hence, to determine the effectiveness of an apology in facilitating reconciliation, one only needs to look at its content, such as whether the transgressor has acknowledged the wrong committed.[42] Others argue that the apology includes acts of material reparations that follow, since it is only these actions that can “render the words” of an apology “meaningful.”[43] Both definitions are flawed; the latter conflates symbolic and material reparations, making it difficult to distil the apology’s symbolic contribution to reconciliation, while the former excludes the performative aspects of the apology by only considering its textual content.[44]  Furthermore, it has the potential to be too unwieldy, with more criteria added to determine its effectiveness.[45] Hence, I will employ Celermajer’s definition of the apology as a “ritual performance,”[46] since it captures its symbolic essence but does not reduce it to its textual content.

3. Settler-Colonialism and the Normative Desirability of Reconciliation

This chapter will explore the settler-colonial conceptual universe within which my argument operates. Using Wolfe’s conception of this institution as one built on the “elimination of the native,”[47] core settler-colonial policies will be categorized broadly into physical and cultural elimination. Drawing examples from Australia and Canada, I posit that the two key implications of these policies are the irreversibility of past grievances and the continuation of the domination of the indigenous community. Then, building on the premise that decolonization is an inappropriate response, I will demonstrate reconciliation’s normative importance by considering cultural factors. Finally, I will also illustrate how this process does not necessarily lead to assimilation.

3.1 Settler-Colonialism

One might ask what differentiates settler-colonialism from colonialism since both involve an “exogenous domination”[48] of the indigenous community. There are two ways to perceive their differences. The first conceptualisation of settler-colonialism highlights its “territorial”[49] nature. LeFevre describes settler-colonialism as a “distinct imperial formation”[50] that has the goal of finding new territories for its colonies to take root. Colonialism, on the other hand, relies largely on labour to maintain extractive industries for the purposes of the home colony.[51] Although both engage in some form of indigenous domination, their dependence on territory and labour, respectively, results in different relationships being formed with indigenous peoples; while colonialism exploits indigenous people for their labour, settler-colonialism actively seeks to eliminate them for their land.[52] Domination is hence manifested in vastly differently policies under both institutions. This will be elaborated on in following paragraphs.

Another way of studying settler-colonialism is to perceive it as a combination of migration and colonialism;[53] unlike colonisers, settlers permanently migrate to these lands without any intention of returning to their home countries. This permanent migration not only results in different forms of subjugation due to its pursuit of territory rather than labour, but also means that is an ongoing process.[54] In Wolfe’s terms, for the indigenous people who live in settler-colonial states, their colonizers “never went home.”[55] in pursued policies is that decolonisation never occurred for settler-colonial states and is unlikely to occur in the future. The indigenous people in places such as Australia and Canada continue to live together with, or rather, under them. This complicates the redress of settler-colonial injustices since it is not merely a historical injustice, but also an ongoing part of the indigenous community’s present reality.

3.1.1 Settler-Colonial Policies: Physical and Cultural Elimination 

As opposed to colonialism, which required the maintenance and reproduction of the indigenous community,[56] the territorial character of settler-colonialism resulted in a project of replacement rather than exploitation. Physical elimination in the form of frontier violence thus followed as the indigenous people were displaced and, in many cases, murdered for their land. These acts can even be described as tantamount to genocide;[57] for instance, Bain and Rogers claim that the violence that occurred in Tasmania, Australia in the Nineteenth century was genocidal, pointing to evidence that showed the rapid decline of the local aboriginal community with the emergence of a settler policy that aimed to remove these indigenous people from their land.[58] Additionally, a study by the University of Newcastle provides details on the 150 massacres that occurred,[59] showing the extent of frontier violence in Australia.[60] Researchers found that these were often planned events as the settlers intended to “destroy or eradicate the victims or force them into submission.”[61] This lends weight to the description of settler-colonial policies as genocidal.

Some sceptics raise doubts on these statistics presented, claiming that it would be mistaken to characterise it as an act of elimination as some of these conflicts were two-sided or even initiated by the indigenous communities themselves.[62] However, this claim fails to consider that there would be no cause for conflict if the settlers did not first invade the indigenous land and force them to change their traditional modes of living.[63] Furthermore, it would be wrong to depict these conflicts as an equal war on both fronts as the Europeans possessed weaponry far superior to those owned by the indigenous people,[64] resulting in greater causalities suffered by the aborigines. This can be seen from how over 20,000 indigenous people in Australia died in these frontier conflicts, while settler deaths only comprise 10 percent of that number. [65][66]

Even after frontier violence ended, elimination continued insidiously. Beyond physically invading the indigenous territories, there was a cultural affront, too. As the settlers eventually gained more territories, there was an attempt to culturally “eliminate the native”[67] and create a good citizen in its place through implementing assimilationist policies. The most notorious cases took place in Australia and Canada where indigenous children were removed from their families against their will and placed in settler households. In Australia, these aboriginal children are referred to as the “stolen generation,” the term reflecting not merely the act of removal from their families, but also the theft of their indigenous heritage. Under this policy that aimed to “breed out the black,”[68] these children had their names changed and were not allowed to speak their indigenous languages.[69] Furthermore, they were forbidden from contacting their families,[70] and instead had to learn what was to be their new normal as a part of the settler community.

Demonstrating the cross-cultural consistency of these policies, Canada also practised cultural elimination. To abolish indigenous traditions and force indigenous children to adopt settler practices, Canada had a policy of “where an estimated 150,000 indigenous children were forced to attend the residential school system where they were taught English and learnt about Christianity.[71] In the same vein as Australia’s policy, they were also prevented from using their own traditional languages in a bid to break their connection with their heritage for the purposes of “assimilation” into settler society.[72] Although they were allowed to return to their families during school breaks, most children found themselves unable to speak their indigenous languages, and by extension, unable to communicate with their families.[73] Cultural elimination was, thus, brought to its completion as the indigenous person lost their connection to indigeneity.

3.1.2 Implications: Irreversibility and Continuation

Acts of physical and cultural elimination are largely irreversible.[74] It is impossible to restore lost lives, and for the stolen generation, a nearly unattainable task of returning the heritage that they lost; even as cultural assimilation policies have been discontinued, a whole generation of indigenous people have already lost touch with their families and heritage. Alfred Calma, who was part of the stolen generation, describes himself as “neither white nor black,”[75] which is emblematic of the cultural confusion experienced by those who were torn from their indigenous heritage but had problems integrating into settler society. As these policies were relatively recent,[76] several organizations have determined that many members of the stolen generation still suffer from some form of mental stress today.[77] Furthermore, as many did not receive proper education and were treated as menial labour by the white households that adopted them,[78] they are also trapped in a limbo between both communities since they are unable to fully integrate with the settlers even if they chose to do so. Settler-colonialism appears to have permanently placed the indigenous community in a subjugated position.

Besides its irreversibility, this historical legacy of mistreatment continues to have a profound negative impact on present indigenous communities in both material and symbolic ways. For example, :[79] 60 percent of indigenous children in Canada live in poverty, a figure that is double that of their non-indigenous counterparts.[80]continued land expropriation destroyed traditional indigenous “modes of production.”[81] With European encroachment, the indigenous people had less land to support their subsistence-based economy.[82] Over the years, this created a situation where settler economies flourished at the expense of indigenous ones as they had access to their land and resources. Coupled with poor access to education,[83] indigenous people also found themselves unable to integrate into more modern forms of production propagated by the settlers.[84] As a result, unemployment among Aboriginal Australians is approximately two times greater than among the non-indigenous community.[85] Beyond these material issues, less obvious is the intangible continuation of settler-colonialism. National narratives have been white-washed of settler violence, ignoring indigenous grievances and suffering over the years. The lack of historical records on the number of indigenous deaths in frontier wars affirm this symbolic continuation of settler-colonial domination by relegating this community to the side-lines of official memory.[86] Even as eliminatory policies have been discontinued, indigenous people remain dominated in both tangible and intangible ways.

3.2 The Normative Importance of Reconciliation 

3.2.1 Decolonization: An Appropriate Response?

Scholars, governments, and activists alike have proposed two contrasting approaches in addressing indigenous grievances, the first of which is decolonization. In its most complete form, decolonization, referring to a return of sovereignty to the indigenous community,[87] has been suggested as a possible response to settler-colonial atrocities. The Native American scholar Taiaiake Alfred even claims that it is the only option that sufficiently addresses the excesses of settler-colonialism as “reconciliation would permanently enshrine colonial injustices.”[88] While decolonization could be a possible response to addressing past injustices, two overlapping factors prevent this option from being an appropriate response for settler-colonial states.

The first reason is feasibility. The language of decolonization has already been widely used in government policies: the Australian Government issued a statement indicating that they acknowledge the importance of “self-determination” in helping Aboriginals “meet their social, cultural and economic needs.”[89] However, that pronouncement came with a caveat: “it is not about creating a separate indigenous ‘state.’”[90] Although pro-decolonization activists perceive this as the only option that allows for a clean “from the historical legacy of settler-colonialism, they face government reluctance in its materialization.

Behind this issue of feasibility lies a more deep-seated cultural factor that better explains government reluctance in pursuing decolonization. As an institution that combines colonialism and migration,[91] the need to distinguish itself as a sovereign entity separate from the home colony led original settler governments to incorporate indigenous motifs in building a new distinct identity. For instance, these states often privilege narratives that emphasise the indigenous character of their territories to “express its difference from the home colony.”[92] Common traits shared by such narratives include depictions of “wild, untamed frontiers, and rugged white individualism,”[93] and representations of their new territories as “hard-won through the taming of savages.”[94] This appropriation of indigeneity for identity-building purposes continue today; Qantas, the national carrier of Australia, continues to use indigenous symbols as part of their airplane livery.[95]

However, there is reason to believe that what began as selfish appropriation on the part of the settlers has unwittingly produced a hybrid of the two cultures, upon which the national identity of a settler-colonial state is premised. Through the intermix of cultures over the years, evidence suggests that the indigenous community has also bought into this notion of a shared national identity.[96] For instance, interviews conducted with Australian aboriginal people demonstrated implicit support for a common Australian citizenship, regardless of one’s settler or indigenous background.[97] Given these strong feelings of national consciousness, a decolonization policy that results in the formation of a sovereign indigenous entity would be overlooking these factors. Hence, I am keen to concur with Moses’ argument that it is “no longer evident”[98] that redressing settler-colonial injustices requires complete decolonization where sovereignty is returned to the indigenous people.

3.2.2 Reconciliation

Given that decolonization might not be an appropriate approach towards addressing settler-colonial injustices, I argue that reconciliation should instead be viewed as a viable alternative. In this section, I will address concerns that postcolonial scholars have towards this approach and demonstrate how reconciliation can allow for both communities to learn to live together in a shared political space. I will be using Verdeja’s conceptualisation of reconciliation as a state of mutual respect to make a case for its normative importance.

3.2.2.1 A State of Mutual Respect

The debate on reconciliation occurs most frequently over its definition. As studied in the literature review, reconciliation theories can be broadly categorised into communitarian and agonist approaches. Although both make an argument for the desirability of reconciliation in post-conflict states, the former makes a “non-political account of co-existence” that emphasises ultimate “social harmony.”[99] The latter conceptualises reconciliation thinly by perceiving it as a state where divisions between former adversaries do not hamper but instead encourage vibrant debate in which conflict is handled through the democratic process.[100] Verdeja critiques both and puts forth his own notion of reconciliation as a state of mutual respect.[101] He describes it as the acknowledgement of the “equal moral status”[102] of others and built on reciprocity; while we can provide justifications for our own actions, we also have to accept the claims of others to “judge, respond, and act.”[103] This means that our truth-claims are subjected to the critical examination of others; in other words, adopting mutual respect means that “we cannot assume, a priori, that our values are universal, or our practices justified.”[104] This section will show that by adopting this notion of mutual respect, the pitfall of assimilation can be avoided.

Reconciliation: Assimilatory? 

Reconciliation has drawn flak for its assimilatory potential. Some claim that such a policy only legitimizes “the primary structures of the settler state” and perpetuates “colonial patterns of dominance.”[105] In this light, reconciliation is seen to possess a coercive flavour as it takes place on the government’s terms – indigenous communities are left with no choice but to participate. While I do not dispute that reconciliation is a top-down initiative, I disagree that it is inherently assimilatory. However, this comes with a caveat: for reconciliation to be non-assimilatory, it should not “simply reinforce the values and self-understanding of the majority culture.”[106] Verdeja side-steps the assimilatory potential of reconciliation though emphasising mutual respect. As mentioned earlier, this strong emphasis on the moral equality of others provides us a framework within which indigenous truth-claims are not merely glossed over but taken seriously in the reconciliation process. The result is not consensus, but an ongoing project that continuously debates political identities and narratives. Arguing that an “inter-subjective recognition of the moral worth of other”[107] is important for non-assimilatory reconciliation, Verdeja identifies three elements as critical to ensuring that it does not merely reflect the wishes of the settler majority.

What Constitutes Non-Assimilatory Reconciliation?

Firstly, he argues for a critical reflection of the past that is not aimed at achieving consensus but at “exposing violent histories and their impact today to further mutual respect.”[108] Through this reflection, “past injustices” and their “present legacies” should be thoroughly investigated. In other words, the irreversibility and the continuation of settler-colonialism’s physical and cultural elimination policies should be clearly examined. This has the function of acting as a truth claim, exposing discarded elements of history that do not fit into the settler’s narrative. The second step is tightly linked to the first, and Verdeja terms it as “symbolic and material recognition”[109]. After examining these grievances, this stage involves acknowledging them. Through acknowledgment, one recognizes the moral worth of the indigenous community as their truth-claims are accepted into a narrative that was previously dominated by the settler community. This avoids the pitfalls of assimilation that still sees the indigenous community as inferior and in-need of forcible reintegration into wider society. The third stage of reconciliation is then allowing for previously-subjugated groups to participate meaningfully in the political process. He argues that such actions are necessary to move beyond “politically palatable”[110] expressions of remorse that do not substantially redistribute power in favour of the subjugated group.

4. Symbolic Reparations: Studying the Political Apology

As a reconciliatory tool, the political apology symbolically addresses the irreversibility and continuation of settler-colonialism in part. Drawing on interdisciplinary scholarship and empirical research, I first conceptualise the goal and yardstick for appraising the political apology before discussing how such a conceptualisation allows us to observe its symbolic contributions to the reconciliation process. The first section will discuss the significance of symbolic reparations in addressing settler-colonial injustices and how it can facilitate reconciliation in a non-assimilatory manner. Then, I will assert that the political apology should be conceptualised as an intergroup act as it partakes in the transformation of collectives, not individuals. Building on that premise, I will argue that its goal is not forgiveness but opening dialogue and that we should assess its efficacy through using the non-assimilatory principle detailed in Verdeja’s theory of reconciliation.

4.1 Symbolic Reparations: Significance in Settler-Colonialism

Reparations have gained international recognition as a legal response to past wrongs. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) codified specific guidelines on what entails a reparative act, under what circumstances it should be used, and how it should be appropriately executed.[111] The document discusses reparations as a way to address “gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian laws.”[112] Such definitions emphasise the magnitude of the injustice that reparations attempt to correct. Additionally, Ferstman’s definition of the reparation as a potential “vehicle for reconciliation”[113] also proves useful for our purposes. In response to large-scale settler-colonial injustices, this section will study how symbolic reparations can play a role in repairing relations between settlers and indigenous communities. I will first address some of the criticisms of symbolic reparations in relation to material reparations before discussing how they contribute to the reconciliation process as theorised by Verdeja.

4.1.1 Symbolic Reparations: No Independent Value?

Broadly speaking, reparations can be either material or symbolic in nature. Wolfe describes the reparation as a form of material-symbolic compensation, “for that which could not be returned, such as human life, a flourishing culture, a strong economy, and cultural identity.”[114] The main difference between the two lies in the type of redress it provides: the former is tangible while the latter is not. Examples of material reparations include monetary compensation and the return of territory, while symbolic reparations could refer to truth commissions and political apologies, the latter of which are the subject of inquiry for this piece. While many scholars have acknowledged that both perform different functions and are necessary in addressing grievances, disputes remain over the effectiveness of symbolic reparations. Most commonly, critics lambast its inefficacy in improving the material conditions of the victim, justifying their argument that material reparations more substantially address the needs and desires of the injured party.[115]

By making a claim for symbolic reparations I am not disregarding the utility and normative desirability of material reparations in responding to grave injustices. While I acknowledge the importance of offering “something concrete to repair a specific harm or to compensate for the damage or loss associated with that harm,”[116] this often comes hand in hand with symbolic reparations; both types of reparations are necessary in redressing grievances holistically. While material reparations provide some form of tangible response such as the return of territory, symbolic reparations directly address the “wrongness”[117] of the injustice committed. Sharpe describes its function as “enabling a victim to recover from the effects of a crime.”[118] Thus, it would be a mistake to measure its efficacy through judging whether it is able to improve the material conditions of the victim since it plays a more psychological role in the reparation process.

Victim concerns should not be distilled to material needs alone as they also encompass a “need for recognition, respect, dignity, and hope for a safe future.”[119] Corroborating this, some empirical studies have even shown that such symbolic reparations are more important to victims than material reparations.[120] For instance, Australian indigenous peoples have been outspoken about their demand for an apology despite it lacking a material dimension.[121] Speaking about how much the apology would mean to her, aboriginal activist Rhonda Dixon-Grovernor said, “Sorry heals the heart, and it goes deep.”[122]

Another example that shows the importance of symbolic reparations to these communities was the indigenous outrage that followed when former Australian Prime Minister John Howard refused to issue an apology, choosing to focus on the more “practical” aspect of “reconciliation” such as reducing “indigenous disadvantage” in “employment, health, education, and As a result of this political miscalculation, Ogla Havnen, an aboriginal activist, even named Howard as the person “who effectively derailed reconciliation.”[124]  Howard criticised the insufficiency of “symbolic gestures” in addressing the “practical needs”[125] of the indigenous community but failed to recognise that they had an equally important psychological role to play. When Kevin Rudd apologised in the capacity of Prime Minister several years later, there was an outpouring of support from indigenous communities.[126] In Sydney, hundreds of aboriginal people braved the rain to watch the broadcast of Rudd’s parliamentary speech and were reported to have “cheered each of the three times Rudd said ‘sorry.’”[127] These examples remind us that material reparations alone are insufficient in holistically addressing injustices and that symbolic acts should not be overlooked.

4.1.2 Providing Grounds for Non-Assimilatory Reconciliation  

Moving beyond a general argument for the significance of symbolic reparations in addressing past injustices, it is also important to discuss its potential to facilitate reconciliation. As mentioned previously, Verdeja’s emphasis on mutual respect provides a way in which reconciliation can avoid being assimilatory.[128] Here, I have identified two broad ways in which symbolic reparations can aid the repair of relations between former adversaries as aligned with this theory; through symbolically reducing inequity and acknowledging past injustices, such forms of reparations fulfil the condition of mutual respect by including the indigenous community as partners rather than subjects in the reconciliation process.

Reducing Inequity

Firstly, symbolic reparations provide a redress mechanism that can “reduce the inequity”[129] between settler and indigenous communities. When violence has occurred on such a large scale, symbolic reparations return some of the power lost when the offense was committed through admissions of guilt.[130] Fault is clearly delineated, pushing the burden of guilt from the indigenous community to the settler community. In this, through admitting past mistakes, the offender “assumes a position of vulnerability”[131] that was previously occupied by the victim, thus symbolically reducing the power differentials between both groups. The argument here is not that symbolic reparations alone are enough in addressing power inequality, but that it has value independent of other material actions such as the return of lost territory. Drawing this back to Verdeja’s theory, through reducing power inequity, symbolic reparations provide the groundwork for non-assimilatory reconciliation to take place on more equal terms between settlers and indigenous communities.

Acknowledging Past Injustices

Secondly, such reparations also emphasise the symbolic act of acknowledgement, the second stage of Verdeja’s theory, by rewriting old historical narratives that have privileged the settler’s perception of reality.[132] Through recognising the grievances suffered by the indigenous community, this sets the groundwork for future reconciliatory work by first including the indigenous person’s narrative in the process. Furthermore, this directly addresses the assimilatory concern that many critiques hold: the acknowledgement of the victim’s understanding of reality includes them as partners rather than subjects in the reconciliation process. Aligned with Verdeja’s theory of reconciliation that calls for mutual respect, the moral worth of the indigenous community is recognised as their grievances are validated through such symbolic acts.[133] Old narratives are replaced with new ones, proceeding on the terms of both the settlers and the indigenous community.

4.2 Conceptualising the Political Apology

Celermajer describes the political apology as the “purest” form of a symbolic reparation as it does not include a material dimension.[134] In recent years, it has gained traction among governments in addressing historical injustices, particularly in settler-colonial states such as Australia and Canada.[135]  However, there remains much needed clarification over how it should be conceptualised. By using Celermajer’s definition of the political apology as a “pure or unmixed form of ritual performance,”[136] this section will delve into its characteristics and goals, and follow that discussion with an argument about the relevant standards in identifying an effective apology.

4.2.1 Definitions and Characteristics

Definition

Describing the political apology as a ritual, Celermajer means to emphasise its “dramatic”[137] and ceremonial nature; it is a grand gesture that requires a “memorable public display.”[138] By providing a supplementary definition that describes it as a “symbolic action that ‘alludes to more than it says,’”[139] she pushes us to think beyond the textual content of the political apology in considering its symbolic contributions to the reconciliation process. Furthermore, Celermajer’s definition is aligned with the importance that this article has placed on acknowledging the significance of symbolism in politics; meaning does not only lie in words, and rather, it can be found in gestures, too.

Hence, this article cautions one from utilising a narrow definition of the apology by reducing it to its spoken or written content, as that neglects the potential performative aspects that also contribute to facilitating reconciliation.[140] For instance, by restricting the definition to its content, arguably one of the most famous apologetic performances where Willy Brandt, then-Chancellor of Germany, knelt in front of the Holocaust memorial would scarcely be considered an apology since it did not have any textual content.[141]

On the other end of the spectrum, there are scholars that eschew narrow definitions for an expansive one that encompasses material reparations, such as monetary compensation, that come after.[142] However, such an expansive definition not only dilutes our understanding of the symbolic contributions of the apology, but it also suggests that the apology is per se inefficacious and requires material reparations for it to be useful in addressing past injustices.[143] Thus, I propose that we should go beyond a textual focus of the apology but limit ourselves from studying the material actions that follow. Conceptualising it as a ritual captures both the content and the dramatized nature of the political apology.[144]

Intergroup Apologies

The key characteristic that distinguishes political apologies from interpersonal ones is that it takes place between collectives and not individuals.[145] Firstly, the political apology is usually offered by a representative on behalf of a wider community and does not take place between the perpetrator and victim directly. For example, when former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the stolen generation for the injustice that was committed against them, he was representing the settler community, and the apology was directed towards the indigenous community. The language of his apology made that clear:

“Mr Speaker, I move: That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history. We reflect on their past mistreatment. We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.”[146]

Rudd directed the apology at the “indigenous peoples,” not specific individuals, and used collective rather than singular pronouns, showing that he was apologising as a representative of a wider community. Beyond these linguistic specificities, the notion of apologising for past injustices that were not actually committed by the apologiser only makes theoretical sense if it takes place between collectives rather than individuals. The apologiser would then be representing past and present generations of his or her community in apologising to the victim group. This representative capacity of the apologiser derives from his or her public office.[147] For instance, Kevin Rudd was authorized to apologise “on behalf of a nation”[148] only because he was the prime minister at that time. This is particularly relevant to settler-colonialism as the institution spans several centuries and members of the present-day settler generation are not the actual perpetrators of those injustices. Furthermore, it also acknowledges the government’s complicity in allowing, and even facilitating, the occurrence of these atrocities.

Some critics might then use this as a reason to argue against the need for an apology since it does not make sense to apologise for something that one did not commit.[149] However, settler-colonialism is embedded in a wider social context. For instance, while the current settler generation did not perpetrate those injustices, they continue to benefit from the land that has been taken away from the aboriginal community.[150] In the same vein, the indigenous community experiences a continuation of those policies as they remain disadvantaged in both tangible and intangible ways.[151]

4.2.2 Goals and Yardsticks

An understanding of the political apology as occurring between communities suggests that we should also conceptualise its goals and the yardsticks used to assess its efficacy in relation to this intergroup nature. Hence, instead of concepts such as forgiveness and sincerity¸ one should look at the notions of opening dialogue and non-assimilation to study the political apology. Furthermore, this would also be more relevant to our understanding of reconciliation as a state of mutual respect rather than the socially harmonious outcome proposed by communitarian theorists.

Goal: Opening Dialogue

Andrieu is not alone in arguing that the “primary object of an apology is forgiveness.”[152] Other scholars have made similar claims, romanticising the notion of the apology and disregarding the inherent differences between political apologies and interpersonal apologies. Even on the topic of reconciliation, some argue that forgiveness is essential to achieving a reconciled state.[153] Mellor et al., for example, assert the importance of both the apology and forgiveness in achieving reconciliation.[154] Communitarian theories of reconciliation emphasise forgiveness as an integral component of this process; this perspective suggests that apologies result in “healing and reciprocal acceptance”[155] that generate a socially harmonious order between former adversaries. However, I argue that the link between a political apology and forgiveness is tenuous at best and is a misconception of what non-assimilatory reconciliation entails.

Firstly, several empirical studies have proven that the idea of forgiveness does not weigh significantly on the minds of victims. Qualitative interviews conducted with Aboriginal Australians found that “forgiveness was not a topic that participants engaged with or discussed when thinking of the potential benefits of an apology.”[156] An interviewee whose father was part of the stolen generation remarked [the interview has been edited for clarity]:

“I am closest with my dad ­­­– he’s been stolen. He told me his stories and how they affected him. And, also, how sorry would help him in a way.”[157]

While the notion of an apology featured strongly in many of these interviews and how it could possibly “help” victims, forgiveness was scarcely mentioned. This suggests that victims themselves do not relate their desire for an apology to forgiveness as an outcome. Secondly, it remains suspect whether forgiveness can be realized in the first place. Another study found that even when prompted, victims of past injustices and even the general population do not believe that forgiveness could be achieved through political apologies.[158]  Such empirical evidence corroborates my claim that forgiveness is a peculiar goal for an intergroup apology.  Furthermore, this mistaken emphasis on forgiveness also runs the risk of being assimilatory;[159] by misconstruing it as an integral component of reconciliation, the onus is placed on the indigenous community to forgive even when they have no desire to do so. In a process that is tantamount to existing forms of settler domination, indigenous agency is brushed off in a hasty pursuit of “harmony” and consensus.

One might ask what should the goal of the political apology be then? As a type of symbolic reparation, through reducing inequity between the injurer and the injured, it has the goal of opening dialogue. Aligning this with Verdeja’s theory of reconciliation that emphasises mutual respect,[160] this mutuality means that both parties should be involved in this process. The goal of the political apology is then to create a means for dialogue; it first acknowledges the grievances held by the indigenous community, so that they might agree to join the reconciliation process. Unlike forgiveness, the goal of opening dialogue takes seriously indigenous perspectives and agency and does not perceive reconciliation as a one-off event but rather as an ongoing project. This way, reconciliation is no longer a monologue by the settler community,[161] but instead includes indigenous peoples in a mutual exchange. A comment made by a member of the indigenous community supports this claim:

“Before this reconciliation thing comes about, there’s an apology. It’s as simple as that and if they can’t see it, well I don’t know what they’re doing then.”[162]

The apology acts as a precursor to reconciliation, and through acknowledging past injustices, opens the opportunity for the indigenous community to join the larger reconciliation debate as their grievances are recognised.

Yardstick: Non-Assimilatory

Using efficacy to gauge how well something can achieve its aim, tied together with the goal of forgiveness is the notion of “sincerity” as a benchmark in assessing the effectiveness of an apology. Although there is no consensus as to what constitutes “sincerity,” popular definitions emphasise the need for genuineness and the lack of hypocrisy.[163] While I do not dispute the common logic that a sincere apology makes victims more willing to accept it (and perhaps even forgive), I posit that we should not view an apology that is seemingly insincere as an ineffective one. The political apology takes place between collectives and not individuals; since forgiveness, while very much noble, is not the goal of an intergroup apology, then similarly, “sincerity,” although certainly a valuable addition, should not be used as the main yardstick in assessing its effectiveness.

Firstly, “sincerity” is a personal quality that is attached to the apologiser and not the apology itself. Building on that premise, the notion that a person can sincerely apologise in his or her public capacity as a representative of a community makes the problematic assumption that a public role can have “feelings.”[164] Referencing Rudd’s apology to the stolen generations, it was only made significant because he held public office at that point of time and was representing the government and the settler community in apologising to the indigenous people. In other words, the significance of the apology was not a result of Rudd’s personal qualities. Thus, the use of sincerity as a yardstick for assessing the efficacy of a political apology fails to “distinguish the conditions appropriate to the transformation of individuals from those appropriate to the transformation of collectives.”[165]

In response to this criticism, Thaler proposes another way of assessing the sincerity of a political apology. He argues that the type of “sincerity” that one should be concerned about is not whether the “words spoken” match with the “speaker’s inner intention,”[166] but whether subsequent policy actions match the “semantic content” of the apology. In this way, Thaler appears to avoid making the problematic assumption that public roles can have feelings and resurrects the viability of using “sincerity” as a criterion in appraising efficacy. However, this train of thought invites another incorrect assumption as it recouples the apology, a symbolic gesture, with material policy actions, thus wrongly suggesting that the symbolic nature of the apology itself has no value independent of concrete action.[167]

If the political apology, which is intergroup in nature, is to open dialogue to facilitate reconciliation, then its efficacy should be appraised by how well it is able to achieve this goal. According to Verdeja’s theory, mutual respect is key to ensuring that the indigenous people are not perceived as subjects that are about to be forcibly conciliated [168][169]. Only by establishing their status as equal to the settlers, then would they be more willing to join the reconciliation dialogue. Hence, the political apology first and foremost needs to be non-assimilatory; it needs to take seriously indigenous concerns, and perhaps even include them in the process of crafting the apology. A good example would be Rudd’s apology to the stolen generation as the indigenous community was actively consulted before the apology was delivered, ensuring that it proceeded on their terms.[170] Therefore, I argue that this is a more relevant yardstick than sincerity in assessing whether a political apology is efficacious or not.

An example of an apology that failed the assimilatory measure was introduced earlier in Chapter 1. Unceremoniously attached as part of an unrelated defence spending bill,[171] the United States Congress showed little regard for indigenous concerns in the deliverance of their “apology.” The lack of fanfare was a direct contradiction of the indigenous community’s understandable desire for widespread acknowledgement. One indigenous person commented:

“There were no public announcements, there were no press conferences, there was no national attention (…) what kind of an apology is it when they don’t tell the people they are apologizing to?”[172]

This apology took place on the terms of the settler without considering the needs of the indigenous community, thus violating the principle of non-assimilation and was inevitably unsuccessful in opening dialogue.

5. The Political Apology: Facilitating Reconciliation in Settler-Colonial States

Having established the context of settler-colonialism and conceptualised the political apology, this section will synthesise these two discussions and explore how the political apology can address the irreversibility and continuation of settler-colonialism. I will be studying two apologies that fulfil Verdeja’s non-assimilatory criterion: former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to the stolen generation, and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology to members of the residential school programme.[173]

Through this, I will first develop a framework that details how the political apology acknowledges injustices, symbolically breaks from the past, and includes the indigenous people in new conversations. Importantly, to adhere to the non-assimilatory principle, I will also include indigenous responses to show how these apologies did not merely proceed on the settler’s terms. Then, I will explain how this framework symbolically creates a state of equity and commits to ending domination, thus addressing the twin implications of settler-colonialism in part. As former adversaries become more equal partners, this social transformation allows for the move towards a reconciliation based on mutual respect.

5.1 An Apologetic Framework for Reconciliation

5.1.1 Acknowledging the Past

As studied previously, various scholars have indicated the acknowledgement of past injustices as an integral feature of any political apology.[174] By recognizing the “moral wrongness”[175] of the acts committed, the apologiser validates an indigenous perception of reality. In his apology, Rudd acknowledged the injustices experienced by the indigenous community through eliminatory policies, specifically addressing the stolen generation and the suffering they endured through their forced removal from the aboriginal community:

“We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians. We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country. For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.”[176]

Indigenous reactions were largely supportive of Rudd’s apology.[177] Ernie Dingo, an aboriginal actor, commented:

“(It is) a chance to rejoice, rebirth (…) knowing that what has happened over the last 80 years has not been swept under the carpet.”[178]

Dingo’s emphasis on how the truth was revealed highlights how acknowledgement allows the apology to proceed on the terms of the indigenous community as it does not simply “reinforce” the “self-understanding of the majority culture.”[179] It creates an opportunity for long-neglected indigenous suffering to appear publicly before both communities.[180] The apology performed by Harper towards the First Nations similarly acknowledged indigenous suffering:

“The government now recognizes that the consequences of the Indian Residential Schools policy were profoundly negative and that this policy has had a lasting and damaging impact on Aboriginal culture, heritage and language.”[181]

Significantly, both apologies did not merely scrape the surface of past injustices but exposed in detail the atrocities that were committed against the indigenous community. Beyond this excerpt, Harper confronted the specifics of the residential school programme by openly addressing the number of indigenous people that were affected and making clear its continued negative impact on the community. This acknowledgement of indigenous grievances is not merely an act of recognition, but an endorsement of the historical truth of these claims.[182] Eliminatory policies that have been glossed over or forgotten as once part of the settler-colonial state’s history are now brought to the forefront. By doing so, the political apology sets the stage for a wider dialogue that includes both groups as history is no longer “sanitized” of settler-colonial injustices.[183]

5.1.2 Symbolic Break from the Past

Political apologies also perform a symbolic break from the past by “ritualising closure.”[184] To open dialogue, there is first the need to distance oneself from a past dominated by the settler’s monologue – one which neglected indigenous grievances. This symbolic act of breaking is often reflected in these apologies as the end of one chapter, referring to the legacy of settler-colonialism: the political apology itself is a symbolic turning point in a history dominated by settler-colonial injustices.[185] In the latter half of Rudd’s apology, he states:

“We reflect on their past mistreatment. We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.”[186]

Similarly, in former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology to the First Nations, this symbolic break was echoed in his assertion that such injustices will no longer “prevail” in Canada:

“There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian Residential Schools system to ever prevail again.”[187]

Such themes were also mentioned in interviews that were conducted with indigenous people, validating this function played by the political apology. Christine Fejo-King, an Australian aborigine, claimed:

“It was a proud moment when we, as a country, were mature enough to recognise a dark chapter of our history, face it, and look towards a better future for all.”[188]

Demonstrating cross-cultural consistency, a member of the First Nations in Canada similarly remarked:

“I am also filled with optimism that this action by the government of Canada and the generosity in the words chosen to convey this apology will help us all mark the end of this dark period in the collective history as a nation.”[189]

For many indigenous people, the political apology symbolically guaranteed the eventual end of settler-colonial injustices. Even though their material conditions remained temporarily unchanged, the apology was a promise that settler-colonial injustices would not dictate the future chapters of their shared political history.

5.1.4. Inclusion in a New Dialogue

After making a symbolic break with the past, this part of the political apology looks to the future and discusses a post settler-colonial “new chapter” in history where the indigenous community finds itself as having more equal stakes in determining the outcome of their shared political space.  Rudd’s apology concluded:

“A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.”[190]

Harper’s apology for the residential school programme similarly proclaimed a new future with new alliances formed between the two communities:

“It will be a positive step in forging a new relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians, a relationship based on the knowledge of our shared history, a respect for each other and a desire to move forward together with a renewed understanding that strong families, strong communities and vibrant cultures and traditions will contribute to a stronger Canada for all of us.”[191]

Indigenous reactions to the apology support the claim that it plays an inclusive function. Brian Butler, a member of the aboriginal community, stated that with the apology, “we can feel that we part of Australia. We are part of society.”[192]. Another comment made by Noel Tovey, who was forcibly removed from his family under cultural eliminatory policies, shares this sentiment:

“It wasn’t just saying sorry for what happened, but I’m sorry for 200 years, and now we are all part of Australia.”[193]

By including dominated narratives into dominant ones, the political apology opens opportunities for reconciliation to occur in a non-assimilatory manner. The dialogue takes place as both parties reconstruct history together in a way that not only acknowledges the domination of the indigenous community but also discusses how best to move forward.

5.2 Addressing Settler-Colonial Implications

The three notions of acknowledgement, symbolic break, and inclusion satisfy the non-assimilatory principle and lead to the opening of dialogue between the settler and indigenous communities, thus facilitating a reconciliation based on mutual respect. This section will demonstrate how these three notions represent a commitment to ending settler-colonial domination and the creation of a state of equity, thus symbolically addressing the irreversibility and continuation of settler-colonialism.

5.2.1 Commitment to Ending Domination

Despite the termination of eliminatory policies, the effects of settler-colonialism continue to be experienced by the indigenous community. While these effects can also be material in nature,[194] this piece focuses on the immaterial impact of settler-colonialism as seen in the indigenous community’s symbolic exclusion from national narratives and conversations. In addressing this, the political apology commits to an end of this exclusion. The political apology not only ritualises the closure of a period marked by settler-colonial injustices,[195] it also promises to end a settler-dominated soliloquy.

The political apology is future-oriented; it commits the nation to a trajectory where the indigenous community is no longer subjugated. While it might not be an immediate discontinuation of settler dominance, it looks towards the future through pronouncing the start of a “new chapter” – a theme that was present in both the apologies that we studied earlier. Furthermore, the political apology can also lead to more tangible conclusions and address the material backwardness of the indigenous community.[196] As a public statement, the political apology enshrines the commitment made by the government to improve the material conditions of the indigenous community in national memory. For instance, the apology made by Harper to the First Nations emphasised the Canadian government’s continued commitment to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement which provides monetary compensation to survivors of the residential school programme.[197]

5.2.2 Creating A State of Equity

Eliminatory policies employed by the settler government led to the loss of culture and life – both for which restitution is impossible.[198] The political apology addresses this irreversibility by firstly recognising the impossibility of restoring a person or a community to a pre-settler-colonial state.[199] It then focuses on the social relations between settlers and indigenous communities; through acknowledgement, the performance of a symbolic break, and inclusion, the political apology restores social relations “to what they might have been if the injustice had not taken place.”[200] For our purposes, this means that it symbolically creates relative equity between the two communities, such that it approaches a state where it is as if they have not been subjected to settler domination. By “redirecting blame towards perpetrators and relieving the moral ambiguity”[201] experienced by the victims, the political apology allows the indigenous community to gain power symbolically together with the validation of their truth-claims.

Beyond acknowledgement, the political apology also distances itself from settler-colonial inequality and commits to a “new chapter” where both communities are seen as having equal stakes in the nation. While previously indigenous concerns have been ignored in favour of an overwhelming settler voice, the political apology creates a space for the indigenous community in the wider national fabric by giving weight to their grievances. Looking at the indigenous responses that we have studied previously, this aspect is captured in repeated claims of how with the apology, they are no longer subjects but an official “part” of their country.

5.3 Social Transformation?

Critics of my argument might point to the lacklustre results in both Australia and Canada, where despite the apology, efforts to improve the material conditions of the indigenous community have stagnated.[202] Indeed, the lack of empirical examples appear antithetical to my conclusion. However, these critiques address the material dimension of reconciliation. As asserted in the previous chapter, I do not dispute that material reparations are important in providing redress for settler-colonial injustices, but rather, emphasise the importance of the symbolic dimension in achieving a holistic outcome. Hence, the lack of material change, while disappointing, does not subtract from the utility of the political apology in facilitating reconciliation.

Settler-colonial injustices are addressed in part as inequity is symbolically reduced between the two communities. Thus, the political apology itself is valuable independent of material actions. Although alone it is unable to achieve complete social transformation in terms of constructing complete equity, judging from the overwhelming demands for an apology in both Australia and Canada, its importance in the reconciliation process should not be understated. Drawing back to previous chapter, it plays a specific function by directly responding to the “moral wrongness”[203] of the acts committed, thus contributing to the process of addressing settler-colonial implications holistically.

Even though the scale of power is still tipped in favour of the settlers, both communities are officially and publicly recognised as having equal ownership over a shared historical narrative through the political apology. This dialogue then can result in more material changes; as suggested by Verdeja as the third step of reconciliation, the dialogue opened by the political apology can lead to further inclusion of the indigenous community in the decision-making institutions of the country.[204] Succinctly capturing the symbolic contributions of the political apology and the ongoing nature of reconciliation, Ti Hannah, a member of the Gunditjmara indigenous community in Australia commented:

“We’re not going to stop suffering just because of what was said today but, we still are suffering. It’s just good to know that the Government and the nation have seen what has gone wrong and are trying to move forward and rectify that.”[205]

Conclusion

Reconciliation does not necessarily have to be assimilatory; considering practical and cultural factors, it even appears to be a more viable response than decolonization to settler-colonial ills. Its normative importance rests in its transformation of social relations between both settler and indigenous communities as they continue to occupy the same political space and share a similar national identity. While scholars have focused mostly on the role of material reparations in realizing successful reconciliation, they have largely ignored the importance of symbolism in achieving a holistic outcome. By studying the political apology, this article demonstrated how such reparations can be valuable despite the lack of a material dimension[206].

Through developing a conceptualisation of the political apology as intergroup in nature, I further asserted that it can facilitate a reconciliation of “mutual respect” that does not violate the non-assimilatory principle. Anchoring these theoretical ideas in real examples, the official apologies made by the Australian and Canadian government illustrated how the three themes of acknowledgement, symbolic breaking, and inclusion facilitated a reconciliatory process that took into account indigenous concerns. Synthesizing these different discussions, we also discussed how it represents a commitment to ending domination and creates symbolic equity, thus closing the circle and addressing settler-colonial implications.

Nevertheless, complete social transformation remains elusive for both Australia and Canada despite these apologies. Indigenous communities remain disadvantaged as compared to their settler counterparts; true mutuality and equality have yet to been achieved. However, rather than see this as a contradiction to earlier claims, this merely suggests that the political apology itself is insufficient for complete reconciliation. As emphasised both in my work and by Verdeja, for reconciliation to occur holistically, both material and symbolic change is needed. The political apology has provided for the latter, and the next step for these governments is to ensure the former.

Politics is more than a culmination of material factors; the importance that these indigenous communities place on receiving an official apology demonstrate how symbolic gestures are integral to any human society. From dramatic rituals that celebrate life and death, to the practice of singing the national anthem, politics is also symbolic in nature. In addressing injustices, the political apology is but one option in a larger symbolic toolkit that includes truth commissions, memorials, and even seemingly cosmetic gestures such as moments of silence. Governments should take care in giving symbolism its due attention. Returning to the half-hearted “apology” offered by the United States government to the indigenous community, perhaps they should take a leaf from the Australian and Canadian examples in moving towards reconciliation.


About the Author

Hannah Chong is a student of Political Science at the National University of Singapore. Her academic interests lie in political philosophy and labor politics. She enjoys learning and reading about migration issues and spends her time offline advocating for marginalized migrant workers in Singapore.


Endnotes

[1] Gardiner Harris, “At Hiroshima Memorial, Obama says Nuclear Arms Require ‘Moral Revolution’,” The New York Times, May 27, 2016.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Robert Longley, “Did You Know the US Apologized to Native Americans?,” ThoughtCo., April 26, 2017, https://www.thoughtco.com/the-us-apologized-to-native-americans-3974561.

[5] Ibid.

[6] In other words, one that fulfils the non-assimilatory criterion. This criterion will be expounded on in Chapter 4.

[7] Danielle Celermajer, “Mere Ritual? Displacing the Myth of Sincerity in Transitional Rituals,” The International Journal of Transitional Justice 7, (2013): 286-305, doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijt003.

[8] Penelope Edmonds, Settler Colonialism and (Re)Conciliation: Frontier Violence, Affective Performances, and Imaginative Refoundings (London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2016), 11.

[9] Ernesto Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” International Political Science Review 38, no.2 (2017): 227-241, 228.

[10] Lorenzo Veracini, Settler-Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 8-9.

[11] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 228.

[12] Celermajer, “Mere Ritual?”, 286-305.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 227-241.

[15] Celermajer, “Mere Ritual?”, 287.

[16] Tate A. LeFevre, Settler Colonialism (Oxford University Press, 2015), doi:10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0125.

[17] Aimee Carrillo Rowe and Eve Tuck, “Settler Colonialism and Cultural Studies: Ongoing Settlement, Cultural Production, and Resistance,” Cultural Studies & Critical Methodologies 17, no.1 (2017): 3-13, 6.

[18] LeFevre, Settler Colonialism.

[19] Patrick Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” Journal of Genocide Research 8, no.4 (2006): 387-409.

[20] Through the use of the term “positive”, Wolfe demonstrates that settler-colonialism did not only remove indigenous foundations, but also built new structures in place of them.

[21] Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism,” 388.

[22] Patrick Wolfe, “Race and the Trace of History for Henry Reynolds,” in Studies in Settler Colonialism: Politics, Identity and Culture, ed. Fiona Bateman and Lionel Pilkington, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 272-296.

[23] Anne Bonds and Joshua Inwood, “Beyond White Privilege: Geographies of White Supremacy and Settler Colonialism,” Progress in Human Geography 40, no.6 (2016): 715-733, 722.

[24] Edmonds, Settler Colonialism and (Re)Conciliation, 11.

[25] Ibid, 15.

[26] A. Dirk Moses, “Official Apologies, Reconciliation, and Settler Colonialism: Australian Indigenous Alterity and Political Agency,” Citizenship Studies 15, no.2 (2011): 145-159, 146.

[27] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 228.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid, 229.

[30] Ibid, 229.

[31] Ibid, 237.

[33] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 231.

[34] Michael Murphy, “Apology, Recognition, and Reconciliation,” Human Rights Review 12, no.1 (2011): 47-69.

[35] Kora Andrieu, “’Sorry for the Genocide’: How Public Apologies can Help Promote National Reconciliation,” Millennium – Journal of International Studies 38, no.1 (2009): 3-23.

[36] Celermajer, “Mere Ritual?”, 286-305.

[37] Moses, “Official Apologies, Reconciliation, and Settler Colonialism,” 149.

[38] Juan Espindola, “An Apology for Public Apologies?: Transitional Justice and Respect in Germany,” German Studies Review 36, no.2 (2013): 327-345, 328.

[39] Edmonds, Settler Colonialism and (Re)Conciliation, 15.

[40] David Mellor, Di Bretherton, and Lucy Firth, “Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Australia: The Dilemma of Apologies: Forgiveness, and Reconciliation,” Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology 13, no.1 (2007): 11-36.

[41] For an example, refer to Adina Abida, “The Speech Act of Apology in Political Life,” Journal of Pragmatics 14, no.3 (1990): 467-471.

[42] Michael R. Marrus, “Official Apologies and the Quest for Historical Justice,” Journal of Human Rights 6, no.1 (2007): 75-105.

[43] Janna Thompson, “Is Political Apology a Sorry Affair?,” Social & Legal Affairs 21, no.2 (2012): 215-225, 220.

[44] The dramatized side of the political apology. This will be elaborated on in Chapter 4.

[45] Renee Jeffery, “When is an Apology Not an Apology? Contrition Chic and Japan’s (Un)Apologetic Politics,” Australian Journal of International Affairs 65, no.5 (2011): 607-617, 615.

[46] Celermajer, “Mere Ritual?,” 288.

[47] Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism,” 387-409.

[48] LeFevre, Settler Colonialism.

[49] Wolfe, “Race and the Trace of History for Henry Reynolds,” 272.

[50] LeFevre, Settler Colonialism.

[51] Veracini, Settler-Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview, 3.

[52] Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism,” 387-409.

[53] Veracini, Settler-Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview, 3.

[54] Bonds and Inwood, “Beyond White Privilege,” 718.

[55] Wolfe, “Race and the Trace of History for Henry Reynolds,” 272.

[56] Veracini, Settler-Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview, 8-9.

[57] Thomas James Rogers and Stephen Bain, “Genocide and Frontier Violence in Australia,” Journal of Genocide Research 18, no.1 (2016): 83-100, DOI: 10.1080/14623528.2016.1120466.

[58] Ibid, p.86

[59] A rough estimate.

[60] “Colonial Frontier Massacres in Eastern Australia 1788-1872,” The University of Newcastle, Australia, accessed March 20, 2018, https://c21ch.newcastle.edu.au/colonialmassacres/map.php.

[61] Ibid.

[62] For example, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard denies that genocide took place. For reference, read Helen Davidson, “John Howard: there was no genocide against indigenous Australians,” The Guardian, September 22, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/22/john-howard-there-was-no-genocide-against-indigenous-australians.

[63] “Lest we forget, wars undeclared,” The Sydney Morning Herald, April 25, 2014, https://www.smh.com.au/national/lest-we-forget-wars-undeclared-20140424-376r3.html.

[64] Francis Firebrace Jones, June E. Barker, and Pauline E. Mcleod, Gadi Mirrabooka: Australian Aboriginal Tales from the Dreaming (World Folklore Series) (Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 2001), 30.

[65] A conservative estimate.

[66] Paul Daley, “Why the number of Indigenous deaths in the frontier wars matters,” The Guardian, July 15, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/15/why-the-number-of-indigenous-deaths-in-the-frontier-wars-matters.

[67] Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism,” 387-409.

[68] “Caught up in a scientific racism designed to breed out the black,” The Sydney Morning Herald, February 14, 2008, http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/caught-up-in-a-scientific-racism-designed-to-breed-out-the-black/2008/02/13/1202760399034.html.

[69] “The Stolen Generations,” Australians Together, accessed March 20, 2018, https://www.australianstogether.org.au/discover/australian-history/stolen-generations.

[70] Ibid.

[71] “A history of residential schools in Canada,” CBCnews, May 16, 2008, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/a-history-of-residential-schools-in-canada-1.702280.

[72] Ibid.

[73] Ibid.

[74] Marrus, “Official Apologies and the Quest for Historical Justice,” 93.

[75] Evelyn Nieves, “Australia’s ‘Stolen Generations’ Tell Their Stories,” The New York Times, May 24, 2017.

[76] The policy that led to the stolen generation was only discontinued in 1970, while the Canadian residential school programme only ended in 1996.

[77] “Mental Health and Aboriginal People,” Creative Spirits, accessed March 20, 2018, https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/health/mental-health-and-aboriginal-people.

[78] “The Stolen Generations,” Australians Together.

[79] “Indigenous disadvantage in Australia,” Australians Together, accessed March 20, 2018,

[80] Kristy Kirkup, “60% of First Nations children on reserve live in poverty, institute says,” CBC news, May 17, 2016.

[81] Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism”, 395.

[82] Jon C. Altman, “The Aboriginal Economy,” in Northern Australia: Options and Implications, ed. Rhys Jones (Australia: Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1980), 87-107,

[83] As of 2014, only 59% of Aboriginal children managed to complete their twelfth year of compulsory education as compared to 84% of non-indigenous children “Aboriginal education,” Creative Spirits, accessed March 22, 2018.

[84] Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism”, 395.

[85] “Indigenous disadvantage in Australia,” Australians Together.

[86] “Colonial Frontier Massacres in Eastern Australia 1788-1872,” The University of Newcastle, Australia, accessed March 20, 2018.

[87] Moses, “Official Apologies, Reconciliation, and Settler Colonialism,” 157.

[88] Ibid, 149.

[89] “Right to self-determination,” Australian Human Rights Commission, accessed March 20, 2018,

https://www.humanrights.gov.au/right-self-determination.

[90] Ibid.

[91] Veracini, Settler-Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview, 3.

[92] Lorenzo Veracini, “Telling the End of the Settler Colonial Story,” in Studies in Settler Colonialism: Politics, Identity and Culture, ed. Fiona Bateman and Lionel Pilkington, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 204-218, 215.

[93] Bonds and Inwood, “Beyond White Privilege,” 723.

[94] Rowe and Tuck, “Settler Colonialism and Cultural Studies,” 6.

[95] “Flying Art,” Qantas, accessed March 23, 2018, https://www.qantas.com/travel/airlines/flyingart/global/en.

[96] In interviews conducted with Australian indigenous people, Moses found that many of them referred to themselves as part of a larder Australian national community. Refer to Moses, “Official Apologies, Reconciliation, and Settler Colonialism,” 145-159.

[97] Ibid, 152

[98] Moses, “Official Apologies, Reconciliation, and Settler Colonialism,” 157.

[99] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 229.

[100] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 229.

[101] Ibid, 231.

[102] Ibid.

[103] Ibid.

[104] Ibid.

[105] Edmonds, Settler Colonialism and (Re)Conciliation, 15.

[106] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 237.

[107] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 231.

[108] Ibid, 232.

[109] Ibid.

[110] Ibid, 236.

[111] “Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation,” United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commission, accessed March 20, 2018

[112] Ibid.

[113] Carla Ferstman, Reparations (Oxford University Press, 2012), doi:10.1093/obo/9780199796953-0003.

[114] Stephanie Wolfe, The Politics of Reparations and Apologies (New York: Springer, 2014), 5.

[115] Celermajer, “Mere Ritual?”, 286-305.

[116] Susan Sharpe, “The idea of reparation,” in Handbook of Restorative Justice, eds. Gerry Johnstone and Daniel W. Van Ness (United Kingdom: Taylor and Francis Ltd, 2006), 24-40, 27.

[117] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 234.

[118] Sharpe, “The idea of reparation,” 27.

[119] Ron Dudai, “Closing the Gap: Symbolic Reparations and Armed Groups,” International Review of the Red Cross 93, no.883 (2011): 783-808, 788.

[120] Sharpe, “The idea of reparation,” 28.

[121] Robert Manne, “The sorry history of Australia’s apology,” The Guardian, May 26, 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/26/sorry-history-australia-apology-indigenous.

[122] James Grubel, “Australia says sorry to Stolen Generations,” Reuters, February 13, 2008, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-politics-aborigines/australia-says-sorry-to-stolen-generations-idUSSYD9123020080213.

[123] Andrew Richard Gunstone, “The failure of the Howard Government’s ‘practical’ reconciliation policy,” in The Complexities of Racism: Proceedings of the Second International Conference on ‘Racisms in the New World Order, eds. Hurriyet Babacan and Narayan Gopalkrishan (Caloundra Old Australia: University of the Sunshine Coast, 2008), 48-57, 49.

[124] Nakari Thorpe, “7 legacies of John Howard’s government,” NITV, March 3, 2016, https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/the-point-with-stan-grant/article/2016/03/03/7-legacies-john-howards-government.

[125] Gunstone, “The failure of the Howard Government’s ‘practical’ reconciliation policy,” 50.

[126] Grubel, “Australia says sorry to Stolen Generations,”

[127] Grubel, “Australia says sorry to Stolen Generations,”

[128] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 228.

[129] Sharpe, “The idea of reparation,” 26.

[130] Ibid, 29.

[131] Ibid.

[132] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 234.

[133] Ibid.

[134] Celermajer, “Mere Ritual?,” 288.

[135] The Canadian and Australian examples were chosen as they were not only widely reported on but also considered breakthrough moments in each of their respective countries.

[136] Celermajer, “Mere Ritual?,” 288.

[137] Ibid, 292.

[138] Michael Tager, “Apologies to Indigenous Peoples in Comparative Perspective,” The International Indigenous Policy Journal 5, no.4 (2014):1-18, 6.

[139] Celermajer, “Mere Ritual?,” 292.

[140] Or in other words, dramatized aspects.

[141] Wolfe, The Politics of Reparations and Apologies, 137.

[142] For an example, refer to Thompson, “Is Political Apology a Sorry Affair?,” 220. She claims that the political apology itself is insufficient, and more concrete political and social processes are needed to render the apology meaningful.

[143] Celermajer, “Mere Ritual?,” 287.

[144] Ibid, 292.

[145] Ibid, 288.

[146] “Apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples,” Australia Government, accessed March 22, 2018, https://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/our-country/our-people/apology-to-australias-indigenous-peoples.

[147] Celermajer, “Mere Ritual?,” 293.

[148] Ibid.

[149] “Nothing to say sorry for: Howard,” The Sydney Morning Herald, March 12, 2008,

[150] Mellor et al., “Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Australia,” 19.

[151] Refer to Chapter 3 for examples of indigenous disadvantage.

[152] Andrieu, “’Sorry for the Genocide’,” 5.

[153]Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 228.

[154] Mellor et al., “Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Australia,” 11.

[155] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 229.

[156] Michael Wenzel, Tyler G. Okimoto, Matthew J. Hornsey, Ellie Lawrence-Wood, and Anne-Marie Coughlin, “The Mandate of the Collective: Apology Representativeness Determines Perceived Sincerity and Forgiveness in Intergroup Contexts,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 43, no. 6 (2017): 758-771, 759.

[157] Mellor et al., “Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Australia,” 25.

[158] Manuel Cárdenas, Darío Páez, Bernard Rimé, and Maitane Arnoso, “How Transitional Justice Processes and Official Apologies Influence Reconciliation: The Case of the Chilean ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ and ‘Political Imprisonment and Torture’ Commissions: Transitional Justice and Apologies in Chile,” Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology 25, no. 6 (2015): 515-530, 525.

[159] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 229.

[160] Ibid, 228.

[161] Espindola, “An Apology for Public Apologies?,” 328.

[162] Mellor et al., “Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Australia,” 27.

[163] “Sincerity,” Merriam-Webster, accessed March 22, 2018, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sincerity.

[164] Celermajer, “Mere Ritual?,” 293.

[165] Ibid, 288.

[166] Ibid, 293.

[167] Ibid.

[168] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 228.

[169] Edmonds, Settler Colonialism and (Re)Conciliation.

[170] “Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples,” Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Policies, accessed March 29, 2018.

[171] Longley, “Did You Know the US Apologized to Native Americans?,”

[172] Tager, “Apologies to Indigenous Peoples in Comparative Perspective,” 6.

[173] Studied earlier in Chapter 3, these apologies are made to the victims of cultural eliminatory policies: the stolen generation refers to indigenous children (in Australia) who were forcibly removed from their families and subsequently adopted by white settler families. The residential school programme (in Canada) was conducted in a similar vein as in indigenous children were removed from their families and placed in boarding schools where they were taught mainstream Canadian culture in a bit to cut them off from their indigenous heritage.

[174] Marrus, “Official Apologies and the Quest for Historical Justice,” 79.

[175] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 234.

[176] “Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples,” Australian Government.

[177] Moses, “Official Apologies, Reconciliation, and Settler Colonialism,” 145-159.

[178] Ibid, 154.

[179] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 237.

[180] Here, one can refer to the American example in the introductory paragraph. While the “apology” acknowledged indigenous suffering, the lack of publicity was equivalent to a continuation of having the truth being “swept under the carpet”, thus understandably drawing the ire of indigenous communities.

[181] “Statement of apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools,” Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, accessed March 22, 2018, http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100015644/1100100015649.

[182] Darío Páez, “Official Or Political Apologies and Improvement of Intergroup Relations: A Neo-Durkheimian Approach to Official Apologies as Rituals.” Revista De Psicología Social 25, no. 1 (2010): 101-115, 109.

[183] Bonds and Inwood, “Beyond White Privilege,” 723.

[184] Kris Brown, “Commemoration as Symbolic Reparation: New Narratives Or Spaces of Conflict?” Human Rights Review 14, no. 3 (2013): 273-289, 275.

[185] Murphy, “Apology, Recognition, and Reconciliation,” 50.

[186] “Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples,” Australian Government.

[187] “Statement of apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools,” Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

[188] Moses, “Official Apologies, Reconciliation, and Settler Colonialism,” 153.

[189] “Aboriginal leaders look to future after historic apology,” CBC News, June 11, 2008, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/aboriginal-leaders-look-to-future-after-historic-apology-1.700098.

[190] “Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples,” Australian Government.

[191] “Statement of apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools,” Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

[192] Moses, “Official Apologies, Reconciliation, and Settler Colonialism,” 153.

[193] Ibid.

[194] Such as high poverty rates and low education levels. Refer to “Indigenous disadvantage in Australia,” https://www.australianstogether.org.au/discover/the-wound/indigenous-disadvantage-in-australia/ for more examples.

[195] Brown, “Commemoration as Symbolic Reparation,” 275.

[196] Murphy, “Apology, Recognition, and Reconciliation,” 63.

[197] “Statement of apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools,” Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

[198] Marrus, “Official Apologies and the Quest for Historical Justice,” 93.

[199] Wolfe, The Politics of Reparations and Apologies, 5.

[200] Marrus, “Official Apologies and the Quest for Historical Justice,” 93.

[201] Brown, “Commemoration as Symbolic Reparation,” 275.

[202] Calla Wahlquist, “Rudd’s apology, 10 years on: the elusive hope of a ‘breakthrough moment’,” The Guardian, Feb 12, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/feb/12/looking-back-at-rudds-apology-the-shining-hope-of-a-breakthrough-moment.

[203] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 234.

[204] Verdeja, “Political Reconciliation in Postcolonial Settler Societies,” 236.

[205] “Thousands greet Stolen Generations apology,” ABC, February 13, 2008,

[206] Celermajer, “Mere Ritual?”, 286-305.


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