28 March 2019. Free entry.

Presentation of project by Claudia Astarita and Akihiro Ogawa (Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne)

Screening of documentary Civil Society and Reconciliation

Image courtesy Louis Dai

Thursday 28 March 2019, 6:30PM - 8:00PM
CO.AS.IT., 199 Faraday Street, Carlton
FREE EVENT: Register below


For decades, official state-sanctioned apologies have been the preferred tool to help rebuild broken international bonds, but their effectiveness in fostering national reconciliation is debatable. What has become clear, though, is the role civil society has played in facilitating people’s reflection upon the most rending aspects of their own past. From survivors, teachers to museum curators, ordinary people in Japan, Germany, and Italy are stepping into the vacuum and helping to bring formerly warring countries closer together.

Remarks by Riccardo Brizzi (University of Bologna) and Laura Fontana (European Holocaust Research Infrastructure, Paris)

Followed by Q&A with the audience.

Lasting reconciliation with former enemies after a war is a difficult and often distressful process. Peace is not a top-down practice and the entire civil society must be involved to make it successful. Public discussion of Sec-ond World War crimes in West Germany, Italy and Japan in the post-war period was extremely sparse. By contrast, the Allies believed that they could free Europe and the Far East from “Nationalism and Militarism” by means of war crimes trials, de-fascistization and denazification. In fact, Germany and Italy had to wait until the 1960s to create, with the support of media and civil society, a lasting awareness on a shared national narrative of the Second World War. Only by establishing a mutually supportive connection between history and memory it be-comes possible to spread new positive values and perspectives in civil society, triggering a virtuous and inclu-sive reconciliation process.

Akihiro OGAWA is Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute. He completed a PhD in Anthropology in 2004 at Cornell University, fol-lowed by two years of postdoctoral work at Harvard University’s Program on US-Japan Relations and Department of Anthropology. He then taught at Stockholm University, Sweden, from 2007 to 2015. His major research interest is in contemporary Japanese society, focussing on civil society.

Claudia ASTARITA is a Fellow at the Asia Institute, the University of Melbourne, and Lecturer at Sciences Po, Paris. She obtained her Ph.D. in Asian Studies from Hong Kong University in early 2010. Her main research interests include China’s political and economic development, Chinese and Indian Foreign policies, East Asian regionalism and regional economic integration, Asian Civil Society, and the role of media and memory in reshaping historical narratives in Asia.

Riccardo BRIZZI is Associate Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Bologna, and visiting Professor at several European Universities (Sciences Po Paris, Sciences Po Lyon, Paris Assas etc.). His main research interests include European political History (19th and 20th century) with a focus on French political history, history of political communication in the 20th and 21th century and Sports history.

Laura FONTANA is one of the leading Holocaust educators in Europe with nearly 30 years of teaching experience. Since 1994 she has been in charge of an educational programme devoted to the teaching of the Holocaust under the name of “Education and Remembrance”. She joined Mémorial de la Shoah of Paris in 2008 as the head of its newly founded Italian Department.

This event is associated with the workshop “Embedding the Apology in the Media: How Civil Society Contributes to Reconciliation,” The University of Melbourne Wednes¬day 27 March 2019. For more information, click here.