The Guilt of Nations: Restitution and Negotiating Historical Injustices

Front Cover
JHU Press, Oct 9, 2001 - History - 414 pages

How do nations and aggrieved parties, in the wake of heinous crimes and horrible injustices, make amends in a positive way to acknowledge wrong-doings and redefine future interactions? How does the growing practice of making restitution restore a sense of morality and enhance prospects for world peace? Where has restitution worked and where has it not?

Since the end of World War II, the victims of historical injustices and crimes against humanity have increasingly turned to restitution, financial and otherwise, as a means of remedying past suffering. In The Guilt of Nations, Elazar Barkan offers a sweeping look at the idea of restitution and its impact on the concept of human rights and the practice of both national and international politics. Through in-depth explorations of reparation demands for a wide variety of past wrongs—the Holocaust; Japanese enslavement of "comfort women" in Korea and the Philippines; the internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor; German art in Russian museums and Nazi gold in Swiss banks; the oppression of indigenous peoples in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. mainland, and Hawaii; and the enduring legacy of slavery and institutional racism among African Americans—Barkan confronts the difficulties in determining victims and assigning blame in the aftermath of such events, understanding what might justly be restored through restitutions, and assessing how these morally and politically charged acknowledgments of guilt can redefine national histories and identities.


What people are saying - Write a review

THE GUILT OF NATIONS: Restitution and Negotiating Historical Injustices

User Review  - Kirkus

A timely examination of how guilt, victimization, and restitution have become pervasive in the dialogue of global politics.Defying the traditions of realpolitik, Barkan (Cultural Studies/Claremont ... Read full review

The guilt of nations: restitution and negotiating historical injustices

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Beneath a layer of academic jargon, this is a novel and thought-provoking work. Barkan (historical and cultural studies, Claremont Graduate Univ.) explores the increasingly widespread practice by ... Read full review


The Faustian German Reparation to Jews
American Memory Japanese Americans Remember the Camps
Sex Slaves Comfort Women and Japanese Guilt
Plunder as Justice Russian Victims and Glorious Museums
Nazi Gold and Swiss Solidarity A New Mechanism for Rewriting Historical Crimes?
Restitution in East Central Europe Deserving and Undeserving Victims
First Nations Renaissance Indigenous Groups and the Pluralistic Model
Native American Restitution Land Human Remains and Sacred Objects
Oceanic Models for Indigenous Groups Australian Aborigines
Once Were Warriors The Limits of Successful Restitution
Restitution for Slavery Opportunity or Fantasy?
Toward a Theory of Restitution

Hawaii The Other Native Americans

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2001)

Elazar Barkan is chair of the Cultural Studies Department and associate professor of history at Claremont Graduate University.

Bibliographic information