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Transitional Justice and Reparations for Slavery and its Ongoing Legacy in the United States

The new episode of the Justice Visions podcast is the third episode of a mini-series that looks into the revolutionary potential of transitional justice in current protests, when social movements movement use it in non-scripted innovative ways. In this episode we examine how US-based activists demanding reparations for slavery and its ongoing legacy, tap into the disruptive potential of transitional justice language and initiatives.

Together with our studio guest, professor Joyce Hope Scott, we reflect on the nature of the current reparations debate in the US, unearthing its long history and global reach, as well as activists reasons for sometimes relying on the rhetoric of transitional justice.

Through a focus on the work of INOSAAR we unpack some of the most pressing public misconceptions about reparations and reparative justice, as well as about the very history of enslavement. As professor Scott argues,

We see an inseparable connection between the African continent: those who stayed and those who left. […] Because what we are, is epistemological orphans. So there’s a whole effort of research and of reconnection that we do at the level of Indigenous knowledge to broaden the struggle and make it more effective. So the conversation gets much bigger, much more global. And the implication behind this idea of transitional justice is that this is not going to happen again, that there will be healing.

As such the episode does not only examine what transitional justice can mean for the current struggle for reparations, but also what the innovations, reconceptualizations and new approaches developed as part of this struggle may mean for more mainstream transitional justice.


Professor Joyce Hope Scott is a clinical professor of African-American and black diaspora studies at Boston University. She’s also a co-founder of the International Network of Scholars and Activists for Afrikan Reparations (INOSAAR), is an international network dedicated to reparations and to other forms of transitional justice for the enslavement and the genocide of peoples of African descent. She is the author of numerous publications including: ‚ÄúReparations, Restitution, Transitional Justice” in the Journal Of World-Systems Research.

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