Symbolic comes from the domain of culture; Reparations from the domain of law. How can these terms be conjoined to promote processes of healing, justice and social transformation?
WHO WE ARE
The Symbolic Reparations Research Project [SRRP] is a group of humanities and legal scholars specializing in human rights, art, and culture. We are committed to fostering the arts, cultural practices, and humanities as a crucial means of developing the efficacy of symbolic reparations for victims of gross violations of human rights.
WHAT WE DO
The SRRP provides analysis regarding the use of art, architecture, and aesthetic memorialization as processes that repair and satisfy victims, preserve memory, and promote public dialogue aimed at social transformation. We also offer best practice recommendations and interpretive guidance on the use of art in conceptualizing and implementing programs for symbolic reparations, in accordance with the norms of international human rights.
ART, MEMORIALIZATION & SYMBOLIC REPARATIONS
A vital component of state-sponsored reparations programs, symbolic reparations aim to preserve historical memory, restore the dignity of victims, and guarantee the non-repetition of violence. As a medium of symbolic reparations, the arts —in the form of public memorials, museums, memory projects, and other aesthetic practices of memorialization— can play a pivotal role in building cultures of deliberative democracy moving societies toward reconciliation and transformation.
A key aspect of transitional justice, the power of aesthetic memorialization is widely recognized as a means to commemorate traumatic pasts, to incite reflection on the future of communities, societies and nations, and to change the social conditions underlying human rights violations. In providing challenging aesthetic provocations, art promotes sustained reflection and debate on human rights, and therefore fosters civic engagement and citizenship. By disrupting codified norms of perception, interrupting existing systemic relations, and destabilizing sedimented habits of thought, artistic interventions can alter our modes of perception and redefine our potential for transformative action.