Political Reconciliation
Political Forgiveness

Guest Lecturer: Michael Ignatieff

Michael Ignatieff is a writer, teacher and former politician. Born in Canada, educated at the University of Toronto and Harvard University, he has written award-winning books, worked as a television presenter and documentary filmmaker, editorial columnist and university teacher. He has taught at the University of British Columbia, Cambridge University, the London School of Economics and Harvard University, where he was Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School of Government between 2000 and 2005. He is a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and holds eleven honorary degrees.

His major publications are The Needs of Strangers (1984), Scar Tissue (1992), Isaiah Berlin (1998) The Rights Revolution (2000) Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry (2001), The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (2004), True Patriot Love (2009) and Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics (2013).

Between 2006 and 2011, he was Member of Parliament for Etobicoke Lakeshore, Deputy Leader and Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Between 2011 and 2013, he held a professorial appointment at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. In 2014, he rejoined the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University as Edward R. Murrow Professor of the Practice of Politics and the Press. He also serves as Centennial Chair of the Project on Global Ethics at the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs in New York.


In the class, Michael Igantieff shares personal stories from South Africa and Bosnia & Herzegovina, two countries that approached Political Reconciliation in radically different ways. Through these experiences, he narrates personal experiences with truth, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

[His] presentation began with a review of his essay, “Digging Up The Dead, (The New Yorker, November 10, 1997). Through the powerful stories of Nason Nwandwe and his murdered daughter Phila, and Joyce Mtimkulu and the poisoning and murder of her son Siphiwo, he illustrated the issues arising when people, living in the same place but divided by race, religion, and political affiliations, try to return from violent conflict to genuine nationhood. Keep Reading.

Full Lecture

Highlights from the Conversation

Colleen Murphy and Linda Radzik, “Reconciliation” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Nir Eiskovits, “Forget Forgiveness: On The Benefits of Sympathy for Political Reconciliation”

Michael Ignatieff, “Digging Up The Dead”, The New Yorker