Kelsey R. Lizotte

  • Dissertation Title: Rethinking Reparations: Repairing the Past, Transforming History
  • Description:In the global sphere today, reparations have become one of the key instruments in the transitional justice toolbox, and a mainstream ideal in addressing contemporary human rights violations. However, the notion of reparations today for historical injustice and systematic human rights violations of the past is highly complex, contested and undertheorized. I argue that reparations for the past are not only possible, but also that participation in reparations politics is a duty of all citizens, who ultimately benefit from socio-economic and political structures developed under circumstances of protracted and institutionalized human rights violations. I argue that it is necessary to move away from traditional conceptions of reparations, and rethink how the politics of reparations may become possible, practical, meaningful, effective and democratized.  In Part I, I explore the problematic nature of the transitional justice paradigm, tort legal model, and binary question of material vs. symbolic reparations. In Part II, I identify a range of solutions to the problems raised in Part I. I argue for a model based on structural reparations (driven by democratic political participation) and community-based reparations. I argue that structural and legislative change is the best way to address modern social ills resulting from injustices of the past. These claims and solutions are based on particular cases in the United States, while emphasizing universal principles in dealing with reparations for the past.
  • CommitteeChair: Dr. Stephen E. Bronner (Rutgers University, Political Science), Dr. Alexander L. Hinton (Rutgers University, Anthropology), Dr. Antonio Vazquez-Arroyo (Rutgers University, Political Science), and Dr. John Torpey (City University of New York, Sociology and History)
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