2011

Thinking Past Rights: Towards Feminist Theories of Reparations

by Genevieve Renard Painter

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Winner, Audre Rapoport Prize for Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights (2011)

Abstract:

The notion of reparations encompasses debates about the relationship between individual and society, the nature of political community, the meaning of justice, and the impact of rights in social change. In international law, the dominant approach to reparations is based on individual rights. This normative framework is out of step with the understanding of reparations that circulates among many women activists. This paper develops a theoretical approach to justice and reparations that helps to explain the gap between the international normative framework and activist discourses. Based on distributive, communitarian, and critical theories of justice, I argue that reparations can be thought of as rights, symbols, or processes. Approaching reparations as either rights or symbols is rife with problems when approached from an activist and feminist theoretical standpoint. As decisions about reparations programs are and should be determined by the political, social, economic, and cultural context, a blueprint for ‘a feminist reparations program’ is impractical and ill-advised. However, the strongest feminist approach to reparations would depart from an understanding of reparations as a process.

Revised version Published as: Painter, Genevieve Renard, Thinking Past Rights: Towards Feminist Theories of Reparations (2012). Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012. View here

Keywords: reparations; feminist theory; international law; critiques of human rights; women’s rights activists

Resumen:

El concepto de reparaciones incluye debates sobre las relaciones entre individuos y sociedad, la comunidad política, el sentido de justicia y el impacto de los derechos en cambio social. En ley internacional, el enfoque dominante a las reparaciones está basado en los derechos individuos. Esta marca normativa es diferente que las interpretaciones de reparaciones que hacen circular con las activistas. Esto ensayo desarrolla una marca teorética para la justicia y las reparaciones que ayuda explicar la laguna entre la marca normativa internacional y los discursos activistas. Basada en una teoría de justicia distributiva, comunitaria y critica, yo sostengo que se puede entender las reparaciones como derechos, símbolos o procesos. Si se entiende reparaciones como derechos o símbolos, hay muchos problemas desde la punta de vista feminista. Porque decisiones sobre los programas de reparación están y deben estar decididos por el contexto político, social, económico y cultural, un anteproyecto de ‘un programa feminista de reparación’ no es viable. Sin embargo, la propuesta feminista más fuerte para las reparaciones se debería apartar del entendimiento de reparación como un proceso.

Palabras claves: reparaciones; la teoría feminista; derecho internacional; críticas a los derechos humanos; derechos de las mujeres activistas

Author’s Contact Information:

genevieve.painter@berkeley.edu

Project & Publications Type: Audre Rapoport Prize for Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights, Working Paper Series