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Slave Trade Legacies, Reparations and Risk Allocation

Brennan, Fernne (2011) 'Slave Trade Legacies, Reparations and Risk Allocation.' International Journal of the Humanities, 8 (10). pp. 117-126. ISSN 1447-9508

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Shortly put, “Risk is the possibility that something undesirable might happen.” Behind the Rawlsian veil of ignorance (the original position) are human participants in the social contract who ‘agree’ to pursue a particular enterprise by allocating the possibility of these undesirable outcomes. The veil of ignorance presumes equality of person, value and participation, and equality in terms of the burden of risk on individuals. In our social contract ‘good’ or ‘bad’ outcomes are primarily based on individual luck or chance. Risk analysis enables us to tell a different story about the social contract, one that locates behind this veil of ignorance an institutionalised system of risk-taking behaviour that rigs risks against those least able to manage the fall-out (Dahan and Dine, 2003). This paper utilises the literature on risk analysis to answer the question: how do we resolve the call for reparations for the legacies of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (TAST)? TAST legacies on its descendant human victims with its contemporary and continuing inequalities remain in Europe, the Caribbean, the Americas and Africa. Despite the global platform provided by the UN World Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (2001) to draw attention to the slave trade as a source of contemporary racism against people of African and Afro-Caribbean descent, and national commemorative events marking the abolition of the slave trade since 1807 and linking wealth creation in Western Europe with the destruction of human beings and societies in Africa and the creation of European Chattel Slavery (Blackburn, 1997), scholarship attests to the issues that surround the failure to obtain reparations. Treading in treacle are the recurring themes for and against the case for reparations that include the nature of the claim, the relevant parties, the amount of compensation and the question of causing. Missing in this metanarrative (Walvin, 2008) is a conceptual framework based on an analysis of risk. This paper uses risk analysis as a paradigm that seeks to inform us about the hidden inequalities in liberal democracies plagued by a racism that has its roots in the TAST, the project provides a justification for why we should unearth these inequalities by locating their historical and institutionalised context and offers a tool through which to consider how to reallocate risk through reparations.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Race; Institutional Racism; Social Capital; Trade, Caribbean; Export Zones; Risk; Reparations; Women
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Law, School of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2012 10:03
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2012 10:03

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