Friday, August 23, 2019

Glasgow University and its "programme of restorative justice".

The major problem with talking about reparations, besides the time factor, is what form would they take? Glasgow Univerity found that donations to the 1866-1880 campaign to build the university's current campus at Gilmorehill incluided 23 people who gave money which had some financial links to the New World slave trade. "Some financial links" is an interesting term: especially since the period in question includes the 18th and 19th Centuries.

The Abolition of Slave Trade Act, which made it illegal to trade slaves throughout the British Empire and banned British ships from involvement in the trade, was passed by the British Parliament on 25 March 1807. Britain officially ended trading slaves on 1 March 1808 (the slave trade still went on illegally for some time). Slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire by the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, with exceptions provided for the East India Company, Ceylon, and Saint Helena. Those exceptions were eliminated in 1843. Slavery was still practised in the United States until the end of the US Civil War in 1865.

While illegal, slavery is still practised in the world, which is something any serious discussion of this topic needs to include. Likewise, slavery took many different forms. Both issues are something that any realistic discussion of this topic needs to address.

Glasgow University isn't the only academic institution in United Kingdom to look into how it profited from the slave economy. Yet Glasgow University also points out that it supported abolition. So, there were two aspects of this. The University "profited" from the slave trade while condemning that trade.

On the other hand, "restorative justice" seems to be looking into the system of forced labour, which I hope includes people who went as "indentured servants" or were transported for "criminal offences".

Anyway, it sounds as if the real outcome of this will indeed be to promote discussion of the topic, which has pretty much been buried in both the US and UK. we could get into a debate about which culture has minimised the role of slavery in its development. Slavery did indeed contribute greatly to the prosperity of those countries, along with western society.

I think the bottom line is that any "reparations" or "restorative justice" is likely to come in the form of an acknowledgement of the role of slavery in Western Society, not monetary. Maybe there might be some social reforms, but I wouldn't be too hopeful about that.

 But addressing this topic in a candid and honest way might indeed be the best course of action for any 'restorative justice".

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