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W. W. Norton & Company

The Guilt of Nations: Restitution and Negotiating Historical Injustices

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How do nations and aggrieved parties, in the wake of heinous crimes and horrible injustices, make amends in a way that acknowledges wrongdoing and redefines future interactions? How does the growing practice of negotiating restitution restore a sense of morality and enhance prospects for world peace? Where has restitution worked and where has it not? The Guilt of Nations explores this increasingly important dynamic in world politics today. Beyond its moral implications, restitution reflects a critical shift in political and economic bargaining. While preserving individual rights, restitution also enables victimized groups to receive growing recognition as groups. Elazar Barkan traces instances of historical crimes, such as the incarceration of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II, the sexual abuse of comfort women by Japanese soldiers, and the recent controversy over the financial dealings between Swiss banks and Nazi Germany. He argues that, as countries including the United States, Australia, and New Zealand come to recognize past injustices toward indigenous peoples within their borders, both governments and minority groups are compelled to redress the history of colonialism and redefine national identity. While restitution is not a panacea, this ever-spreading trend represents a new moral order in world politics.

Author: Elazar Barkan
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Published: 05/01/2000
Pages: 458
Binding Type: Paperback
Weight: 1.54lbs
Size: 9.21h x 6.14w x 1.02d
ISBN: 9780393350357

About the Author

Elazar Barkan is chair of the Cultural Studies Department and associate professor of history at Claremont Graduate University.