New Routledge book series, “Restorative Justice in Heritage Studies and Archaeology”

Nedra Lee, Richard Benjamin, and Chris Fennell (a CfAS member) are delighted to announce this new book series.

Overview: Restorative justice in heritage and archaeology embraces initiatives for reconciliation of past societal transgressions using processes that are multivocal, dialogic, historically informed, community based, negotiated, and transformative. This series will present works that promote the active and often unconventional ways that archaeologists, historians, and heritage scholars are contributing to a process of remaking. Our authors will work to define and illuminate the best practices for restorative justice in these fields and to identify how practitioners and their collaborators are working to redress, reconcile, and remake sustainable, contemporary societies.

Series editors: Nedra K. Lee, PhD, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts; Richard Paul Benjamin, PhD, International Slavery Museum and University of Liverpool; and Christopher Fennell, PhD, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Learn more: We welcome proposals for single-authored, co-authored, and edited volumes. Interested in proposing a book for this series? Contact one of us: ude.bmu@eeL.ardeN,, ude.sionilli@llennefc.

Background: The concept of “restorative justice” has been employed mainly in criminal justice and human rights contexts. For example, restorative justice in the realm of criminal sanctions involves a process of justice other than penalties and imprisonment, and typically entails rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and a related, stakeholder community. Such initiatives emerged in the 1970s as ways to address the shortcomings of Western legal systems. New approaches focus on perpetrators of wrongs taking responsibility and acknowledging the harms they created. At the same time, victims of harm have a space to grieve, express their perspectives and stories, seek answers and responses to their needs, and repair relationships.

For example, an archaeological and historical study of past sites of enslavement could provide a focal point for creating new commemorations negotiated among members of local and descendant communities related to those sites. Existing memorials to historical figures who engaged in past oppressive regimes provide similar opportunities for dialog and negotiation to envision new ways to address the context and significance of those figures and the many people who were targets of their oppression. Such restorative justice efforts typically focus on multiple perspectives and modes of reconciliation, rather than a narrow vision of retribution and punishment. Reparation initiatives are often multivocal, layered, multiplex, and visionary in this way.

Other examples of such restorative justice projects in archaeology and heritage studies include the current work in Tulsa, Oklahoma to document the 1921 destruction of Black Wall Street and the continuing dynamics of African-American heritage in Tulsa to the present. Elsewhere, archaeologists are collaborating with members of African-American and Indigenous communities to search for missing children. Similar projects search for the remains of the casualties of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Heritage activists also engage with instances of apartheid, cultural destruction through assimilation policies, and genocide in several countries, including work of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in Canada and South Africa. These examples highlight the bilateral, dialogic, and ongoing process of working towards transformative, meaningful, and enduring justice for aggrieved parties.

General guidelines for authors are available from Routledge Press (Taylor & Francis),

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