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Justice Across Cultures

justiceacrossculturesOn Monday, March 8, 2004, the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life hosted a one-day conference on the Brandeis University campus. "Justice Across Cultures" explored a variety of issues that arise when systems of justice encounter cultural difference. Participating scholars explored a general set of questions through the examination of particular historical and geopolitical cases. They attempted to answer, among other questions:

  • Under what kinds of historical and political conditions do calls for international systems of justice arise?
  • How are we to understand the intersection of international and domestic justice, and how might these systems be reconciled when in conflict?
  • What role might international systems of justice have in mediating cultural differences and/or in preventing intercultural violence?
  • What kinds of practical difficulties confront those who are charged with enforcing international laws in local communities and in states where those laws conflict with the culturally and/or religiously based moral values of community members?
  • How, if at all, can the various institutions of civil society be used to prevent ethnic conflict?
  • What has been the experience of various restorative justice projects, including both official truth and reconciliation trials and more informal cross-cultural peace-keeping missions? What can we learn from their successes and failures?
The conference was organized around three panels, each consisting of three presentations

Panel I

Justice Across Cultures: Historical, Theoretical, and Legal Perspectives

Moderator: Michael Willrich, Brandeis University

Participants:
  • Ayelet Shachar, University of Toronto — Justice, Culture, and the Problem of Gender
  • David Heyd, Hebrew University of Jerusalem — Can Justice be Extended to the Global Sphere?
  • Eric Cheyfitz, Cornell University — The Force of Translation in the Foundation of U.S. Federal Indian Law
Panel II
Intersections of International and Domestic Justice

Moderator: Bernard Yack, Brandeis University

Participants:
Panel III
Restorative Justice: Reconciliation, Reparations, and Forgiveness

Moderator: Cindy Cohen, Brandeis University

Participants:

Marion Smiley, departments of philosophy and women's studies at Brandeis University, and Leigh Swigart, International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, served as the academic co-directors.

The event was cosponsored by the Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History in Jerusalem.

Read more about the conference in the Spring 2004 issue of Ethically Speaking.