Reparations: a radical way forward or more of the same?

Crawford School of Public Policy
Photo by Deny Abdurahman on Unsplash

Event details


Date & time

Thursday 03 February 2022




Call for papers


Elise Klein

The unequal impacts of COVID-19 and climate change, and the ongoing racial violence and structural discrimination illuminated by the Movement for Black Lives, have exposed the inequalities and injustices still faced by so many around the world. The long shadows of colonialism and plantation slavery linking injustice in the here and now to before are clear. And whilst liberal institutions demand equality for some, they have continually denied calls for reparations. However, these calls do not go away. Arguments for various forms of reparation are gaining support across the world and will continue to return to haunt the institutions of liberal governance in the coming years.

Despite this growing support, demands for reparations for slavery, genocide and colonialism have largely gone unanswered to date. Just this year, Germany acknowledged the Herero-Nama genocide, but stopped short of providing reparations and instead, offered additional funding in aid. International human rights law has attached the Right to Remedy to various international covenants and conventions. However, these are often granted as one-off payments to victims of specific state and corporate crimes, rather than remedying the structures that generated, and continue to generate, the injustices in the first place. In 2014, the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) proposed a ten-point plan for reparatory justice from Western European nations that benefited from slavery and colonisation. In the US, following innovative reparations efforts at municipal levels, H.R. 40, which establishes a ‘commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans’ was advanced by the House Judiciary Committee in April 2021, but it has not yet received the 218 co-sponsors required to bring it to debate on the floor of the House. In Australia, some treaties are currently being negotiated, the High Court has ordered a solatium for the loss of Native title rights and interests over land in the Timber Creek township, and minimal compensation has been announced for some members of the stolen generations. Yet the maiming and incarceration of First Nations lives, land and culture by state policy and practice continues and the demands for reparations remain central.

Reparations can be many things. They can be compensation, they can be redress, they can be atonement and recognition, and they can be money but also land, artifacts, and programs. Reparations can be for individuals and/or for collectivities. Reparations can also be one-off payments offered by the state and the judiciary for injustice, but they also can be part of a transformational agenda to change the structures that created the injustice in the first place.

This online interdisciplinary workshop aims to generate new knowledge and ideas about reparations as a tool, process and political claim to address inequalities and injustice across a wide variety of domains. The workshop aims specifically to bring together academic researchers, activists and practitioners of reparative justice to contribute to academic and public debates on how these ideas can be strengthened and furthered.

Contributions to the workshop should seek to develop new conceptual and/or empirical insights into forms and processes of reparation, specifically to confront and transform issues of social, economic and ecological injustice. We specifically invite contributions that examine, illustrate and explore:

  1. International trends and emerging ideas on reparations, including for plantation slavery and colonisation
  2. Reparations for settler colonialism in Australia and elsewhere
  3. Political and public discourses on reparations, including resistances to these discourses
  4. Transformative reparations
  5. Work examining the tensions and alliances between reparations, abolitionism, and decolonisation.
  6. Reparations and implementation, including different scales of implementation (municipal, state, regional, national, global)
  7. Reparations for addressing gender injustice, ableism and sexual oppression
  8. Reparations for ecological and multi-species injustice
  9. Re-reading historical work on reparations proposals of the last century in order to assess/re-assess what has and hasn’t worked in different national contexts
  10. Universities, knowledge and reparations

Whilst hosted by Universities, this workshop warmly invites contributions and attendance from people from all walks of life. We are particularly interested in contributions from activists and communities that have been working to develop reparations proposals and/or think through new ways of imagining and enacting reparations. Needless to say, this workshop is free to attend but we do invite you to Pay the Rent through the Pay the Rent Collective -

Please send paper abstracts of 200-300 words to by 29th November 2021

Updated:  25 May 2022/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team