Sustaining the Momentum: Reparative Justice for European Colonialism and Slavery
An essay collection edited by Amah Edoh and Liliane Umubyeyi

L to R: Liliane Umubyeyi, co-founder/co-director, African Futures Action Lab; M. Amah Edoh, MIT Assistant Professor of Anthropology

What will it take to sustain the momentum of movements for racial justice sparked in 2020? Discover ideas in this new essay collection co-edited by Amah Edoh, MIT Assistant Professor of Anthropology, and Liliane Umubyeyi, co-founder/co-director of the African Futures Action Lab.


Sustaining the Momentum: Reparative Justice for European Colonialism and Slavery is the latest publication in the Editor’s Forum series from Cultural Anthropology. The "Theorizing the Contemporary" series is the result of the "Justice Now!" symposium that Edoh and Umubyeyi organized and hosted (remotely) at MIT in the Spring of 2021. 

When the Black Lives Matter protests erupted in the U.S in the summer of 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, the ripple effect around the world was stunning. Displays of solidarity were most sizeable in Europe, where protesters’ demands were articulated on multiple fronts, ranging from the removal of monuments celebrating the slave trade and colonialism, to the restitution of artifacts looted from Africa, police reform, economic reparations, and the reform of foreign and international development policies.

What has become clear in these contemporary movements for reparative justice and historical redress is the need for transnational and cross-disciplinary analysis and action: for assessing the affordances and limits of available legal and policy tools; fashioning collaborations across national borders; making visible the continuity between historical injustices and contemporary racism and discrimination; and bringing new vitality to national anti-racist movements often weakened by domestic political dynamics.

Hence the composition of this series, which brings together activists, scholars, lawyers, and journalists working across eight countries in Europe, Africa, and North America. Together, the essays speak to the following questions: What mechanisms are available to pursue reparative justice today? What are their limits? What should justice look like? What will it take to sustain the momentum sparked in 2020?


Suggested links

M. Amah Edoh

Liliane Umubyeyi

Society for Cultural Anthropology

African Futures Action Lab website

MIT Anthropology


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