The production of ordinariness in the accounts of perpetrators of gross human rights violations.
This dissertation explores the construction of ordinariness in the accounts of perpetrators of gross human rights violations, who commit their actions in the context of a system. A review of the literature that conceived of perpetrators in this way was undertaken. This was done whilst exploring the social constructionist paradigm, which formed the theoretical backbone to the study. Discourse analysis was the methodology adopted for the two analyses that were undertaken in the thesis. The first was the analysis of the literature review, which was undertaken in order to see how ordinariness was constructed in the literature. The second analysis was that of the transcript of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Amnesty hearing of the applicant Daniel Petrus Siebert, into the death of Steve Biko. The analyses indicate that there is much similiarity in the ways in which ordinariness is constructed in the local context, and the ways in which it is constructed in the literature. Ordinariness in the context of gross human rights violations is produced through constructions of the perpetrator and the system within which the acts were committed, as passive and active respectively. The construction of the system as the epitome of the evil that is perpetrated enables the humanity or ordinariness of the perpetrator to be kept intact. Ordinariness in the South African context, is based on racist constructions of good whiteness, and bad blackness. Further, in the local political context, the TRC provides the conditions of possibility for the production of ordinariness, and ensures that perpetrators and others who benefited during the apartheid regime, continue to do so, as issues of accountability and responsibility are not adequately addressed.
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