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Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics


Award Winner

Part of Cambridge Studies in International Relations

  • Date Published: August 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108413053

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About the Authors
  • Calls for justice and reconciliation in response to political catastrophes are widespread in contemporary world politics. What implications do these normative strivings have in relation to colonial injustice? Examining cases of colonial war, genocide, forced sexual labor, forcible incorporation, and dispossession, Lu demonstrates that international practices of justice and reconciliation have historically suffered from, and continue to reflect, colonial, statist and other structural biases. The continued reproduction of structural injustice and alienation in modern domestic, international and transnational orders generates contemporary duties of redress. How should we think about the responsibility of contemporary agents to address colonial structural injustices and what implications follow for the transformation of international and transnational orders? Redressing the structural injustices implicated in or produced by colonial politics requires strategies of decolonization, decentering, and disalienation that go beyond interactional practices of justice and reconciliation, beyond victims and perpetrators, and beyond a statist world order.

    • Proposes a new theoretical framework for conceptualizing justice and reconciliation in response to political catastrophes in international and transnational relations
    • Provides richly described historical cases to identify, illustrate, and inform philosophical and normative themes and arguments
    • Bridges work in political theory and international relations in areas of human rights, transitional justice, international law, global governance, postcolonial, and indigenous studies
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    • Winner, 2018 Robert L. Jervis and Paul W. Schroeder Best Book Award, International History and Politics, American Political Science Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Can political theorists meaningfully address significant concepts such as justice, without a nod to the massive injustice perpetrated on the colonised world? Catherine Lu in this marvellously readable book suggests it is time that theories of justice in the 'here and now', take histories of injustice and of reparation seriously. This fine work charts out the historical making of contemporary predicaments in the best tradition of political theory.' Neera Chandhoke, University of Delhi, India

    'Reconcilation is now a major topic in international relations, whether between Asian states trying to overcome the legacy of World War II, or the tensions between governments and indigenous citizens with a history of unjust treatment. Catherine Lu's book is a powerful and rigorous argument that we need to rethink understandings of reconciliation and reposition them in a world where justice is constructed in ways that go beyond traditional state-to-state relations. The book combines extensive empirical case studies with a sure-footed account of the important theoretical literature, providing a major new contribution to the field.' Rana Mitter, University of Oxford

    'We generally think about injustice in the international domain in interactional terms, highlighting, for example, the injustices perpetrated on colonized peoples by imperial powers. This leads to the question: who owes what, to whom, to make reparation for past injustices? A host of problems bedevil this line of inquiry including this one: why should we (some of us, all of us?) be held accountable for actions of others long gone? What was done by empires, now vanished, was not our fault. In this work, Catherine Lu posits a robust challenge to the interactional approach. In its stead she presents a structural analysis which shows how our contemporary global practices may be seen as structurally unjust and how these emerged from earlier arrangements which themselves perpetrated structural injustices. In this thoughtful book she explores the implications of structural analyses for all who seek justice, reparation, the overcoming of structural alienation and the achievement of reconciliation.' Mervyn Frost, King's College, London

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108413053
    • length: 336 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 155 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Justice and reconciliation: Versailles 1919
    2. Pathologies of victimhood
    3. Settling accounts
    4. Agents, structures, and colonial injustice
    5. History and structural injustice
    6. Reconciliation and alienation
    7. Reparations
    8. Beyond reparations: towards structural transformation.

  • Author

    Catherine Lu, McGill University, Montréal
    Catherine Lu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at McGill University, Montréal. Her research intersects political theory and international relations, focusing on critical and normative studies of humanitarianism and intervention in world politics; justice, reconciliation, and colonialism; and cosmopolitanism, global justice, and the world state. She is the author of Just and Unjust Interventions in World Politics: Public and Private (2006), and has held research fellowships from the School of Philosophy at the Australian National University, Canberra, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, Massachusetts.


    • Winner, 2018 Robert L. Jervis and Paul W. Schroeder Best Book Award, International History and Politics, American Political Science Association
    • Co-winner, 2018 Sussex International Theory Prize, Centre for Advanced International Theory, University of Sussex
    • Winner, 2018 Yale H. Ferguson Award, International Studies Association-Northeast
    • Winner, 2019 IETHICS Book award, International Ethics Section, International Studies Association

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