Author Archives: John E. Drabinski

About John E. Drabinski

Associate professor of black studies at Amherst College. He is the author of over three dozen articles and three books, including most recently Levinas and the Postcolonial: Race, Nation, Other (Edinburgh, 2011). He is currently at work on two book-length projects, one on Édouard Glissant’s poetics, another on James Baldwin and the history of black Atlantic theory.

Reconciliation and Founding Wounds

This essay offers a set of reflections on the meaning of reconciliation in the context of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In particular, this essay asks about the relation between ideas of reconciliation and the originating wound toward which reconciliation work is directed. It is here argued that, in the case of the United States, the wound of slavery calls for “conciliation,” not “reconciliation.” If we conceive political community to be a kind of friendship, then the originating wound of the United States (and perhaps the Americas as a whole) calls for a first friendship, not the repair or remaking of relations suggested by the term “reconciliation.”