Australian Apologies for Child Abuse

Following a five year’s investigation by a Royal Commission, the Australian Government on October 22, 2018 has apologized for not having protected tens of thousands of children, victims of sexual abuse during dozens of years.

Sixty percent of child abuse took place within the Australian Roman Catholic Church. Against the proposals by the Royal Commission to prevent child abuse, priests will not be compelled to report to authorities any admissions of abuse.

Hundreds of victims and family members attended an emotional session of the Australian Parliamant in Canberra, broadcast live across the country, where Prime Minister Scott Morrison fought back his tears and said he ‘understood the anger’.

Norwegian Apologies for Mistreatment of ‘German Girls’ after World War II

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has apologized on October 17, 2018 to women, and their offspring, who were mistreated after World War II because of their relationships with German soldiers and bearing their children. Solberg spoke during a commemmoration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The women, then called ‘German girls’, were regarded as traitors and many were arrested, although they had not committed any offense.

In 2015, Solberg apologized for discrimination against Norway’s Roma population before and after the Second World War, calling it a dark part of the country’s history, and promising to pay reparations. Her predecessor, Jens Stoltenberg, apologized in 2012 for the role of his country in deporting Jewish citizens.

Vacancy Student Assistant Position

We invite applications for a student assistant position (for a maximum of 10 days’ work in the months of September and October 2018). As a prospective candidate, you should:

  • be enrolled as a bachelor student at Tilburg University;
  • be able to effectively search for, and neatly organize information;
  • be accurate and have excellent organizational skills;
  • preferably have experience with Excel;

In your application, you should submit a short motivation (may be included in your email) and a Curriculum Vitae (CV).

Send your application before September 17 to Marlies de Groot ( Starting date is ASAP, but no later than October 1, 2018. For informal enquiries, you can also contact Marlies de Groot.

Marieke Zoodsma at the ECPR 2018 Conference

Marieke Zoodsma presented the first results from our Political Apologies Database in a session organized by the Transitional Justice and Human Rights Standing Group at the European Consortium of Political Research conference. This database – which will be available online in the near future – contains close to 300 political apologies that have been offered since the Second World War for human rights violations. The database includes information about key characteristics of these apologies, which we will use at a later stage to analyze cross-national differences and similarities in how political apologies are expressed and received. 
In her presentation, Marieke discussed the coding of these characteristics such as the form (e.g. where, when, how, and by whom was the apology offered?) and the content of the apology (e.g. did it include an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, an acceptance of responsibility, an expression of remorse, a promise of non-repetition?). Our data show that in the past decades, there has been an exponential rise in the number of apologies that have been offered for human rights violations – especially since the end of the 1980s (see figure below). These findings suggest that we do indeed live in an age of apology, as some scholars have suggested. An interesting discussion followed Marieke’s presentation.

Marlies de Groot at the IACCP 2018 Conference

Marlies de Groot co-organized (with Yvette van Osch, Tilburg University) a symposium at the 2018 Conference of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP) in Guelph, Canada. The aim of the well-attended symposium was to obtain a better understanding of what honor is and how it can be measured. In her talk, Marlies presented results from a pilot study across eight countries (Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, the Netherlands, Poland and the United States), in which an adapted version of the honor-dignity-face scale (originally developed by Severance et al., 2013) was administered. She found low reliability scores across all three dimensions. The results in combination with various discussions with local academics also suggested poor cross-cultural construct validity. Emic definitions of honor, face, and dignity did not fully correspond to academic definitions and imply more interplay and overlap between the various categories. Marlies reflected upon these findings and discussed an alternative approach that builds on a more continuous view of the original categorical trichotomy.

Dutch Sculptor Armando (88) Died: Coiner of the Phrase ‘Guilty Landscape’

The internationally renowned Dutch sculptor, painter, writer, and musician Armando (born in Amsterdam as Herman Dirk van Dodeweerd) died on 1 July 2018, aged 88, in Potsdam, Germany, where he lived and worked. His work has been heavily influenced by the Second World War and his youthful proximity to the infamous concentration camp (‘Polizeiliches Durchgangslager’, PDA) Amersfoort, in the center of the Netherlands.

Mr Armando’s themes are considered to be the tragedy and the inscrutability of human existence, as his works express good and evil, offender and victim, guilt and innocence (Henny de Lange, Trouw 2 July 2018). Mr. Armando coined the often applied phrase ‘Guilty trees, woods, and landscapes’, or ‘Guilty landscape’.

Rotterdam Mayor Aboutaleb: Call on Dutch Government to Apologize for Slavery

The Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, has called on the Dutch government to apologize for the Dutch historical role in slavery during a July 1st commemoration marking slavery abolition. Mr Aboutaleb expressed his desire to ‘close this dark page’ during an official commemoration in his city of the abolishment, 155 years ago, of slavery in the Dutch colonies.

Until now, the Dutch government has expressed ‘regret’ and ‘sorrow’ about slavery, but no outright apologies. The time has come to make the next step, Mr Aboutaleb suggested. The Minister of the Interior, Kajsa Ollongren, was present but declined to comment. The Dutch Government is said to dread liability. Mr Aboutaleb’s call was met with mixed response in the media.

Inaugural address Juliette Schaafsma: ‘Political Apologies between a Burdened Past and a Loaded Future’

Juliette Schaafsma delivered her inaugural address on 15 June, 2018 in the Auditorium of Tilburg University, the Netherlands. In her address, titled Political Apologies between a Burdened Past and a Loaded Future, she argued that political apologies are much more complicated than personal apologies, and can even be counterproductive. She also made the case, however, that we may not have many alternative pathways available to transform conflict and human rights abuses into a more peaceful future. In her project, she aspires to gain more insight into the pitfalls and the potential transformative power of political apologies across cultures.

Job Opening: Post-Doc Position

We invite applications for the postdoctoral position in the context of our ERC (European Research Council) Consolidator Grant project (682077) led by dr. Juliette Schaafsma on “Political Apologies across Cultures”. The postdoctoral candidate will work on both subprojects, together with 2Ph.D. candidates and several research assistants. Research will be conducted across at least 15 countries.

Applications should be sent before 5 May 2018. Interviews are expected to be held in the third week of May. Starting date is preferably August 2018. Please see the following link for more information: Apologies across Cultures logo

Expert Meeting – October 2017

Political Apologies across Cultures, Expert Meeting
Political Apologies across Cultures, Expert Meeting

In October last year, we invited ten experts from multiple disciplines to Tilburg University for a one-day discussion on our research project. With their expertise ranging from intergroup relations, (group-based) emotions, reconciliation, and transitional justice to e-humanities and cross-cultural research, the experts travelled from the Netherlands, the U.K., Germany, and Bosnia and Herzegovina to reflect with us on some key conceptual and methodological challenges within the project.

Political Apologies across Cultures, Expert Meeting
Political Apologies across Cultures, Expert Meeting

Throughout the day, the different sessions led to fruitful debates regarding definitional issues (e.g., when is an apology considered to be ‘political’?), methodological issues (e.g., what is the best way to measure collective responsibility?), and theoretical insights (e.g., are honor, face, and dignity useful concepts within our research?). During these discussions, we explored different approaches to deal with these challenges.

Political Apologies across Cultures, Expert Meeting
Political Apologies across Cultures, Expert Meeting

Reactions during and after the day were very positive. We thank all experts for their valued and useful insights and we look forward to continuing to build a network of experts in this field.