The paper contributes to literatures on settlements and institutional maintenance work. It does so by unpacking post-settlement legitimation efforts required to maintain contentious institutions between previously conflicting actors. Settlements often necessitate the maintenance of institutions from the past whose legitimacy is dubious for the new regime. We study the role played by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in re-legitimating and maintaining the institution of the armed forces in the transition from apartheid to democracy. Maintaining this legitimacy required collaboration between the incoming government as well as the apartheid era armed forces. We term these unexpected collaborative efforts ‘reluctant accommodation work’. Our findings show that the lines of allegiance may be more fluid than currently depicted in the literature. Actors that previously conflicted need to find an interest in collaborating in their efforts to shape central institutions. Second, we show that for settlements to shape the field, they need to agree on the terms of collaboration, what we term ‘passage points’, as well as engage in public ceremonies to broadly legitimate the settlement and the institution it seeks to preserve.
- institutional maintenance work
- South Africa