The caring refusenik: A portrait

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Abstract

Reconciliation refuseniks are considered ‘spoilers’ of the effort to mobilise compassion in the wake of systemic political violence. This paper deflects this accusation and, building on feminist theory,advances the notion of caring refusal, one motivated by a commitment to and care for the plurivocality of the collective hermeneutical space where political memory is forged. The caring refusenik demands a lucid reckoning with grey zones of moral and political duplicity, usually obscured by ‘grands récits’ of reconciliation. Inviting public reflection on ‘rhinoceration’ – to borrow Eugène Ionesco’s metaphor for the breakdown of communication, ideological contamination, self-deception, adjustment, and accommodation to systemic violence – the refusenik problematises the political continuities left untouched by neutralising master narratives.To give concreteness to this proposal I introduce Norman Manea, a Jewish Romanian intellectual,whose work constitutes an enduring, caring refusal. His interventions help identify the virtues and the location from where caring refusal is both possible and effective as a political practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-162
JournalConstellations
Volume26
Issue number1
Early online date23 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2019

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