A reconciliation most desirable: Shame, narcissism, justice and apology

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This paper seeks to draw attention to the narcissistic dimensions of the reconciliation movement in Australia and, more specifically, to the way in which the desire to ‘make innocent’ compromises the attempt to ‘make amends’ and construct a just polity. Building upon some early work by Anthony Moran (1998) and Elizabeth Povinelli (1998), it sets out to defend two claims: firstly, that the intensity of the desire for reconciliation in Australia (and conceivably in other settler colonial states as well) is attributable to the sense of shame arising from the collapse of the national ego ideal; and secondly, that the real target of the reparative efforts undertaken under the auspices of reconciliation is the healing of the ‘narcissistic injury’ inflicted by the failure of the assimilation project and the assertion of Aboriginal separateness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-226
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • apology
  • emotions
  • justice
  • narcissism
  • Reconciliation
  • shame

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