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James L. Gibson

Washington University, St. Louis

James L. Gibson, Sidney W. Souers Professor of Government at Washington University, St. Louis, will address the relationship among truth commissions, retributive justice, and the legitimacy of legal institutions in South Africa. One of the most difficult problems facing regimes attempting a transition from authoritarianism to democracy is the problem of retributive justice. South Africa, now concluding its first phase of the truth and reconciliation process, provides Gibson with an opportunity for testing hypotheses drawn from literature on the political psychology of justice and reconciliation. Based on the results of an extensive survey of the South African public, Gibson's study will examine what happens to the legitimacy of legal institutions when demands for retributive justice aren't met.

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