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PUMLA GOBODO-MADIKIZELA is Senior Research Professor on trauma, forgiveness and reconciliation at the University of Free State, and former professor of psychology at the University of Cape Town. After serving as co-ordinator of victims’ public testimonies on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and as facilitator of encounters between perpetrators and family members of victims, Gobodo-Madikizela has been involved in studying the process of forgiving in order to deepen the understanding of its reparative elements in the aftermath of gross human-rights violations and mass trauma.
Her current research applies the insights emerging from the study of forgiveness in victim–perpetrator encounters in order to explore the psychoanalytic dimensions of empathy in the context of perpetrators’ remorse and victims’ forgiveness. Her interests concerning empathy focus on the web of feelings and the transformative shifts that open up in dialogue processes between former enemies. Her critically acclaimed book on this topic, A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness won the Alan Paton Award in South Africa, and the Christopher Award in the United States.
Her other books include Narrating Our Healing: Perspectives on Healing Trauma (as co-author), and Memory, Narrative and Forgiveness: Perspectives on the Unfinished Journeys of the Past (as co-editor).