Repairing historical wrongs and the end of empire

Daniel Butt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This article addresses the claim that some contemporary states may possess obligations to pay reparations as a result of the lasting effects of colonialism. Claims about the harms and benefits caused by colonialism must make some kind of comparison between the world as it currently is, and a counterfactual state where the injustice which characterised so much of historic interaction between colonisers and the colonised did not occur. Rather than imagining a world a world where there was no interaction between such communities, this article maintains that the appropriate counterfactual state is one whereby relations between different communities took place in a context characterized by an absence of domination and exploitation. The conclusion is that there are good reasons to go beyond a focus on symbolic reparations and hold that many affluent contemporary states possess extensive but unfulfilled duties of rectificatory justice to some of the world’s poorest peoples.
Translated title of the contributionRepairing historical wrongs and the end of empire
Original languageEnglish
Article number242
Pages (from-to)227
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Issue number2
Early online date23 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


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