Memory, Activism and Social Justice NUBS 3.06
Jul 04, 2023 11:30 - 13:00(Europe/London)
20230704T1130 20230704T1300 Europe/London 1.12. Memory and justice activism across the political spectrum NUBS 3.06 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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Accountability, forgiveness and memory: Struggling with the U.S. past of racial injustice and police shootings
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 11:30 AM - 01:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/04 10:30:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 12:00:00 UTC
Groups of people who live together for any length of time have a troubled past. Histories of conflict, violence, wrongs and injustice accumulate over time, requiring communities to establish means of addressing them. Western traditions of law and jurisprudence commonly emphasize accountability as a process for redressing past wrongs. Spending enough time in jail, paying a large enough fine, and being excluded from aspects of social life remedy the wrongs of the past. However, the 20th Century was a moment of reckoning when scholars and others began to appreciate the limits of accountability for righting the wrongs of the past in the face of historical atrocities such as the Holocaust. Accountability, ideally, establishes responsibility for the past and metes punishment with fairness and equity as key considerations, but it does not have anything to say about the future relationship between the wronged and the transgressor. An alternative to the accountability approach is forgiveness. Forgiveness is commonly maligned in Western, rational traditions that erroneously equate it with pardoning or a form of theological absolution. Rightly defined, forgiveness is a process that involves confronting the emotional dimensions of a transgression and making a commitment to renegotiate the relationship in light of a past transgression which, rather than being forgotten, fundamentally alters the nature of the relationship. Thus, although it's possible to be held accountable without being forgiven and to be forgiven without being held accountable, these two concepts are not antithetical. A key difference is that accountability remains tied to the past while forgiveness links past to future. 
This paper considers accountability and forgiveness as distinct paths for communities struggling with a troubled past in the context of a traditional, Western redressive ritual of accountability, a trial, and a deeply troubled past, U.S. race relations. In 2018, an African-American man, Botham Jean, was killed by an off-duty Texas police officer, Amber Guyger. Guyger was returning to her apartment complex after work and went to Jean's apartment thinking it was her own. Jean was upset someone barged into his apartment, but Guyger claimed she was in fear of her life when Jean approached her, so Guyger shot Jean. At the sentencing hearing following Guyger's conviction for murder in 2019, Jean's brother forgave her. The incident received national media coverage, sparking a public debate about accountability and forgiveness as ways of redressing a troubled past, both in the narrow sense of the killing and in the broader context of U.S. race relations. 
This analysis illuminates how accountability and forgiveness are conceptualized in U.S. public discourse and why accountability discourses typically dominate discussions of social justice and racial inequality. It contrasts the past-driven discourse of accountability with the future-oriented discourse of forgiveness in order to evaluate the potentials of these paradigms for facing the legacies of troubled pasts.
Presenters
JE
Jill Edy
Associate Professor, University Of Oklahoma
Co-Authors
BL
Brian Long
Graduate Teaching Assistant, University Of Oklahoma
Redefining Resistance: A Transformation in Palestinian Counterhegemonic Thought
Individual paperMemory, Activism and Social Justice 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 22:00:00 UTC
This research focuses on the digestion and reinterpretation of hegemonic and counterhegemonic ideologies present among diasporic Palestinian youth. It investigates the role social identity and inherited memories play in modern forms of Palestinian psychological resistance within the diaspora, as well as how different generations interpret and act upon such constructs. Using the testimonies of third-generation victim survivors of the 1948 al-Nakba, this paper argues that Palestinian counterhegemonic thought and actions found within the diaspora both continue and evolve from previous forms of psychological resistance practiced by earlier generations, centered around the remembrance, commemoration, and rectification of collective trauma. At the same time, and in response to changing circumstances within the diaspora, younger generations of Palestinians consciously adopted new strategies of resistance and remembrance that reflect their positionality across space and time. These new strategies demonstrate this generation's agency on separate levels: first, in their decision to continue counterhegemonic efforts against Israeli historical hegemony; second, in their insistence on communicating these narratives in a way meaningful specifically to their sense of self and purpose.
Co-author: Dr. Andrew Livingstone 
Presenters
KS
Kristine Sheets
PhD Candidate, University Of Exeter
Restitution
Individual paperMemory, Activism and Social Justice 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 22:00:00 UTC
This paper will provide a quick summary of the seven decade old battles over post WWII reparations, restitution and responsibility, as they have been fought in Poland, Russia, Germany, Israel and the United States, and they continue to be fought today. These battles have been fought in multiple countries and by multiple entities, from governments to activist groups, to individuals. Much has been written about the German Reparations Agreement, but much, like the question of why it excluded two thirds of Polish Jewish survivors, remains under-explained. Little to nothing has been written about reparations attempts in Russia, or property restitution in Poland. Little has also been written about the relationship between the memory politics in these countries - and how they changed over the years - and reparations.
"Heskem ha'shiloomim," the Reparations Agreement between Germany and Israel, which was signed on September 10, 1952, secured collective reparations to the "Jewish people," as well as individual reparations for about a third of all survivors then living in Israel. It did not include the quarter million people who were survived slave labor in the USSR. 
Subsequent agreements on behalf of American survivors were negotiated by the Claims Conference in the United States, as well as by individual lawyers and activists. Current groups continue to fight for reparations to those interned and subjected to forced labor in countries such as Libya and Bulgaria.
During the Russian "Perestroika," few benefits – small pensions, paid vacations to Black Sea sanatoriums, medical treatments and the like – were granted to some former slave laborers. International activist groups like Memorial continue to fight for memorialization and reparations. 
In Poland, mass restitution of Jewish owned properties has been legally blocked, though claims by few individuals have partially succeeded. The majority of surviving Polish Jews and their kin, including my father, has not attempted to reclaim assets. Most could not afford the legal battle.
Now more than ever, these legal undertakings can be conversant with legal battles in the present. The past can inform the present, but the present can also inform the past. A way out of the seemingly intractable and defensive ways that plague discussions of historical injustices in individual countries is to analyze and address them comparatively and globally. A way to fight the historical distortions of populist and authoritarian governments, including in the United States - now more than ever American politics share policies and common rhetoric with Russia and other countries that have been swept up in the wave of global populism - is to learn from the work of opposition groups in more repressive countries. That is what this paper will begin to do. 


Presenters Mikhal Dekel
Distinguished Professor , City University New York
The CARICOM Ten Point Plan for Reparatory Justice as Transformative Redress
Individual paperMemory, Activism and Social Justice 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 22:00:00 UTC
This research examines the feasibility of the CARICOM Ten Point Plan for Reparatory Justice (the ten-point plan) issued in 2014 by the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC). The ten-point plan is part of the redress movement of historical injustice of the past colonialism and slavery in the Caribbean. It demands social, cultural, and psychological reparations from the United Kingdom and other European countries. 
 Its success remains to be seen. So far the governments of the United Kingdom and other European countries have not officially responded to the demands. The ten-point plan has two challenges. First, since the historical injustice is about an issue of the past, more than two hundred years ago, it is difficult to see whether the descendants of the victims are entitled to seek reparations. Second, justice is not necessarily accompanied by reconciliation, a process of reconstructing relationships through mutual confidence-building. 
 In this research, I reinterpret the ten-point plan to demonstrate that the descendants of the victims are eligible for reparations and that the ten-point plan contains unique mechanisms of reconciliation. For this reinterpretation, I use the concept of transformative redress proposed by Catherine Lu. 
 The concept of transformative redress addresses structural injustice as embedded in institutions, practices, and discourses that have been reproduced for generations nationally and internationally. Then the concept of transformative redress can highlight the contemporary political, economic, and social systems with the influence of past slave and colonial systems as affecting the descendants of the victims. 
 Furthermore, according to Lu, the concept of transformative redress sees the possibility of dialogue between the victim side and the offender side on equal footing and then the construction of new relationship based on mutual confidence. This is achieved through the three elements of decolonization, decentralization, and disalienation. Decolonization transforms the existing political structure, practices, and discourse that have reproduced the unequal and often exploitative economic and social systems. Decentralization facilitates the democratization of existing political institutions. And disalienation cultivates the victim's capacity to make himself/herself part of existing social conditions. 
 The research demonstrates that the ten points from CRC correspond to these three elements. Decolonization is embedded in the four points of full formal apology, technology transfer, debt cancelation, and repatriation to Africa. The path of decentralization appears as a point of an indigenous people's development program. Disalienation is underpinned in the five points of cultural institutions for commemoration of the victims, literacy enhancement, support for public health to cure overall stress profiles associated with slavery, psychological rehabilitation, and an African knowledge program.
 Still, the research modifies the element of disalienation so that it includes the disalienation of the offender side as well. For transformative redress to be sustainable by avoiding backlash, the offender side should be transformed so that it engages with constructive dialogue with confidence in democratic reciprocity. As pointed by Franz Fanon, in reconciliation the offender side also needs to transform itself. Then with the incorporation of the offender's disalienation, the ten-point plan would be more feasible.  
Presenters
NK
Naoko Kumagai
Professor , Aoyama Gakuin University
PhD Candidate
,
University of Exeter
Distinguished Professor
,
City University New York
Professor
,
Aoyama Gakuin University
Associate Professor
,
University of Oklahoma
 Mary McCarthy
Professor
,
Drake University
Dr Irit Dekel
Assistant Professor Germanic Studies and Jewish Studies
,
Indiana University (Bloomington, USA)
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