Linguistics Speaker Series: Molly Andrews

The Narrative Architecture of Political Forgiveness

Although there is widespread agreement with the argument that Hannah Arendt made more than half a century ago, that forgiveness is ‘one of the human faculties that make social change possible’, beyond this, there is little consensus of what it means. Applying a narrative structure to this discussion, there is a lack of clarity around questions of who, what, where, when, and why to forgive. This paper will explore the politics of forgiveness in East Germany, where these issues have been hotly contested for more than twenty-five years.  The data examined in this article suggest that the fraught process of forgiveness embodies not consensus but contest, as people disagree on key questions such who has the right to forgive whom, for what, how long the window for the opportunity of forgiveness stays open, and even why these questions matter, not only for individuals but for the whole of society. 


Molly Andrews is Professor of Political Psychology and Co-director of the Centre for Narrative Research at the University of East London. She is interested in the intersection of individual biography and society, and for the past twenty years she has been listening to, and writing about, the stories people tell about their lives, specifically focusing on their perception of the political world and their role within it. She has conducted research projects in Britain (life histories with lifetime socialists), the United States (analyzing anti-war activism as an expression of patriotism), East Germany (accounting for national identity in the context of the demise of one's country), and South Africa (examining testimonies before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission).  Professor Andrews is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and received a University Teaching Fellowship from the University of East London in 2011.

Monday, October 15, 2018 at 5:00pm to 6:30pm

Poulton Hall, 230
1421 37th St., N.W., Washington


Georgetown College, Linguistics


Molly Andrews, University of East London

Open to the public and the press?


Event Contact Name

Ben Croner

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