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The Politics of Official Apologies


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Table of Contents

1. Toward a membership theory of apologies; 2. History of national memberships in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States; 3. To apologize or not to apologize: national histories and official apologies; 4. Beyond sentiment? Apologies and their effects; 5. The weight of history and the value of apologies.

Promotional Information

This book examines the political uses of official apologies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.

About the Author

Melissa Nobles (B.A. in History, Brown University; Ph.D. in Political Science, Yale University) is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Nobles' teaching and research interests are in the comparative study of racial and ethnic politics and issues of retrospective justice. She is the author of Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics (2000), which received the 2001 Outstanding Book Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, as well as honorable mention of the Ralph Bunche Book Award from the American Political Science Association. Nobles has been a Fellow at Boston University's Institute on Race and Social Division (2000-2001) and Harvard University's Radcliffe Center for Advanced Study (2003-2004).


"This is a very interesting book on a compelling topic. Nobles makes a strong case that official apologies are under-appreciated and are worthy of sustained analytical attention. The book is well researched and written, solidly grounded in the relevant literatures, and innovative in its approach to its important subject matter. It is an accomplished and influential book that will have a substantial impact." Robert C. Lieberman, Columbia University "A book with interdisciplinary appeal, Melissa Nobles' The Politics of Official Apologies injects a sustained comparative dimension into the international discussion about the public use of history. The tension between nation-building elites and indigenous minorities who stubbornly refuse to assimilate is shown to renew the political culture of nation-states by questioning the terms of civic inclusion. At once intellectually rigorous and morally sensitive, Nobles' book demonstrates the potency of symbolic politics surrounding official apologies in Anglophone settler societies." A. Dirk Moses, University of Sydney "In our age of apology, Melissa Nobles expertly explains why apologies are given, why they are withheld, and the political importance they have. Nobles skillfully presents a theory of political membership that makes sense of why apologies arise and the political work they do. For those looking to understand the rise of public apologies, Nobles' book is the best place to start." Jeff Spinner-Halev, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

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