Reparations as a Rightful Share: From Universalism to Redress in Distributive Justice

Elise Klein, E. Fouksman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The distribution of resources through an unconditional, universal mechanism (such as a universal basic income) recognizes the shared origins of wealth created by past generations and built out of the commons. Yet some groups have lost and suffered far more than others during the process of production and wealth creation, due to colonization, slavery and expropriation. This article argues that calls for reparations are an important caveat to the universalist case for distributive justice. It does so by examining three cases for reparations: reparations for slavery, for transnational inequalities generated by European colonization, and for the dispossession of Indigenous peoples by settler colonialism. The authors put these three cases in dialogue with the argument for universalist (re)distribution, in particular the contention that a universal but redistributory rightful share could act as redress for the unjust expropriation and wealth accumulation of capitalism. This article thus demarcates the overlaps and tensions between reparatory justice and distributory justice, underscoring both the intersection and the friction between calls for redistribution on universal lines and variegated forms of redistribution plus recognition.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-57
    JournalDevelopment and Change
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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