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Distributed March 16, 2005
Contact Mary Jo Curtis

March 18-20, 2005
Brown To Hold Slavery and Justice Conference on “Historical Injustices”

The Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice will host a major academic conference, “Historical Injustices: Restitution and Reconciliation in International Perspective,” Friday, March 18, through Sunday, March 20, 2005. The conference sessions, all free and open to the public, will be held in Smith-Buonanno Hall.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery will present “Historical Injustices: Restitution and Reconciliation in International Perspective,” a major academic conference, Friday, March 18, through Sunday, March 20, 2005, in Smith-Buonanno Hall.

The public is welcome at all sessions of the free conference, which will feature scholars of various aspects of America’s history of slave-trade and race relations, of the Holocaust and other historical injustices, and in historical reckoning and public reconciliation. Presenters include Elazar Barkan, Michael Bazyler, Alexis Dudden, Lord Anthony Gifford, Constantin Goschler, Ben Kiernan, Dirk Moses, Melissa Nobles, Charles Ogletree, Kirk Savage, Wally Serote, Ervin Staub, Adam Strom, Peter Uvin, Margaret Walker and James Young.

The conference is offered in response to the challenge from Brown President Ruth J. Simmons to the University Steering Committee to help the campus and the nation come to a better understanding of the complicated, controversial questions surrounding slavery and retrospective justice. As an institution whose early benefactors included both slave traders and pioneering abolitionists, Brown has an intimate relationship to this history and “a special opportunity and a special obligation” to contribute to this ongoing debate, according to President Simmons.

The conference will generate both scholarly dialogue and a collection of publishable papers that together will address the issues of restitution, reconciliation and repair in ways that, in President Simmons’ words, “help the nation and the Brown community think deeply, seriously and rigorously about the questions raised by this controversy.”

The conference sessions, all to be held in Room 106 of Smith-Buonanno Hall on the Pembroke Campus, are as follows:

Friday, March 18

  • 4:15 to 4:30 p.m. – Welcoming Remarks, President Ruth J. Simmons
  • 4:30 to 6 p.m. – Session One: Truth, Reconciliation and Apology
    with Alfred Brophy (“Considering Universities’ Moral Culpability For Slavery”), Lord Anthony Gifford (“The Legal and Moral Basis of a Multi-Faceted Claim for Reparations”) and Melissa Nobles (“Apologies and the Meanings of Reconciliation”); chaired by Neta Crawford, associate professor (research), Watson Institute for International Studies

Saturday, March 19

  • 8:30 to 10 a.m. – Session Two: Teaching Historical Injustice
    with Sarah C. Fox (Brown University, The Choices Program) and Adam Strom (“Facing History and Ourselves”); chaired by James Campbell, associate professor, Africana studies, American civilization and history
  • 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. – Session Three: Public Memory
    with Kirk Savage (“Therapy, Gesture, or Empowerment: The Role of the Public Memorial in Historical Reckoning”), Wally Serote (“Pending”) and James Young (“Memory Against the National Grain: Counter-Memory and the End of the Monument”); chaired by B. Anthony Bogues, chair and professor, Africana studies
  • 2 to 4 p.m. – Session Four: Locating Responsibility: Individuals vs. Institutions
    with Dirk Moses (“Historical Justice for Indigenous People in Australia”), Ervin Staub (“Dealing with the Past and Its Continuing Effects to Create a Better Future: The Responsibility of Society and Its Individual Members”) and Peter Uvin (“Local Variation, Individual Choice, and the Role of Institutions in the Rwandan Genocide”); chaired by Omer Bartov, the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History in the Department of History
  • 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. – Session Five: Keynote Dialog
    with Elazar Barkan, Ben Kiernan, Wally Serote and Margaret Walker; moderated by Arlene R. Keizer, associate professor, English and American civilization

Sunday, March 20

  • 9 to 11 a.m. – Session Six: Restitution, Reparations and Compensation
    with Michael Bazyler (“Profiting from the Holocaust and the Search for Justice”), Alexis Dudden (“Declaring the Past Illegal in Japanese-Korean Relations”), Constantin Goschler (“German Reparations to Israel: A Precedent for Historical Justice?”) and Charles Ogletree (“The 1921 Tulsa Race Riots: Current Reparations Litigation”); chaired by Kerry Smith, associate professor of history

For more information, call (401) 863-1246 or visit


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