Linguagem – As práticas discursivas como locus de investigação



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Linguagem – As práticas discursivas como locus de investigação

Language – Discourse practices as locus of investigation

Living with a past: reconciliation and moral accountability in the social organization of remembering


Kyoko Murakami and David Middleton, Developmental Studies Group, Loughborough University, Loughborough


Introduction

This paper examines the ways in which reconciliation and moral accountability are accomplished in the social organisation of remembering. Our analysis is based on a corpus of interviews with World War 2 British veterans who were prisoners of war in the Far East. During their period of captivity they worked to build the Thai-Burma Railway before transfer to a copper mine in Japan. Some 50 years later in 1992 they participated in a “reconciliation trip” to Japan. We examine the way participants claim and demonstrate the impact of that return visit to Japan on their post war lives. We are particularly interested in the discursive organisation of redemption narratives where people make claim to crucial experiences and events as the basis of changed views on the impact of war time experiences. Reconciliation becomes studiable as a social practice configured in communicative action where both the past and the future is at issue. Thus the notion of reconciliation is not constituted as if it were oriented to a pre-given mental concept of what needs to be reconciled from a troubled past. Nor is it simply a matter of participation in activities ostensibly focused on commemorative practices purposefully designed to afford reconciliation. It is studiable as an interactive accomplishment configured in the way people make relevant moral accountabilities in interdependencies of experience as personally and publicly relevant. The present analysis is therefore part of a larger concern with what it is to remember events and experiences of W.W.II and what people do with memories of the war and post-war life experiences.





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