volunteering as repentance

Kirsch, Thomas G. 2016. Undoing Apartheid Legacies? Volunteering as Repentance and Politics by Other Means. In: Volunteer Economies. The Politics and Ethics of Voluntary Labour in Africa, hg. von Brown, Ruth & Ruth J. Prince. Oxford: James Currey, 201-221.

This chapter thematizes connections between volunteer activities in the field of crime prevention and the volunteers’ (political) pasts. By focusing on how these connections are made, the conventional analytical focus on volunteering is widened. It takes into account the fact that volunteering emerges out of specific biographies, themselves embedded in specific socio-political histories and historical terrains, and that – as a consequence – the volunteers’ quest for the ‘good’ not only seeks to repair current wrongs, but sometimes also to right past ones. In other words, and with reference to the emerging anthropological interest in volunteerism, this chapter complements the dominant synchronic approach to volunteer work using a diachronic perspective in order to explore the ways in which the volunteers’ (re)interpretations of the past have a bearing on their present-day attempts to become ‘moral citizens’ and to create a better society.