1 Southampton Student L. Rev. 1 (2011)
Exploring the Collective Mea Culpa: Reconciliation between Nations and Populations

handle is hein.journals/sthmpstul1 and id is 9 raw text is: Exploring the Collective mea culpa

Exploring the Collective mea culpa: Reconciliation
Between Nations and Populations
Josh Boughton
The 'apology' is an important weapon in any politician's armoury of political
rhetoric. In order to cultivate reconciliation, politicians are quick to deliver
sincere apologies for wrongs that they, their governments, or their nation have
committed. By considering two recent political apologies, this article seeks to
explore how apologies can legitimately function on behalf of a nation. David
Cameron's apology to the relatives of the victims of 'Bloody Sunday' provides
us with an opportunity to revisit the debate that was provoked in 2008 with
Kevin Rudd's apology to Australia's 'Stolen Generations'. By considering these
apologies, this article explores the way in which collective apologies can be
explained and supported. The author submits that all citizens of a nation can
legitimately participate in a collective apology through experiencing a sense of
national responsibility. The author further submits that this responsibility is
founded on privilege: being privileged enough to be able to enjoy the triumphs
in your nation's history means that you must also accept the failures. The
author concedes that while apologies can be effective in reconciling
relationships and ameliorating the present, they must not be overestimated;
they cannot exist in a vacuum. Apologies must be accompanied by additional
factors in order to function as effective vehicles for reconciliation and justice
Apologies are an integral part of modern social discourse; from the brief
'sorry' that we offer as we brush past another individual to the more
sincere 'I am sorry for the way I acted'. Aside from their role as a basic
social mechanism, apologies have been used in recent years to embody a much
more profound political purpose. Apologies have been employed by numerous
politicians to express regret and remorse for wrongs that they, their
government, or their nation have committed. For example, Prime Minister
Kevin Rudd's apology to Australia's Aboriginal population in relation to the
'Stolen Generations' attracted a great deal of attention from indigenous and
non-indigenous Australians alike. More recently, the notion of the apology as
a method of reconciliation was brought to the forefront of public attention
with David Cameron's apology to the relatives of the victims of 'Bloody
Sunday'. This high profile and very public example provides a new
opportunity to examine the question of whether apologies issued on behalf of



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