Genevieve R. Painter is a doctoral candidate in Jurisprudence and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. She is here this week only, to pursue some archival research and talk with members of the IFLS, Osgoode and York communities about mutual research interests.
Drawing on archival research, interviews, and participant observation, her doctoral project investigates the indigenous-settler colonial relationship, gender equality, and the meanings of sovereignty and self-governance in domestic and international law. She has worked as an advocate, manager, and researcher for several human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, WOMANKIND Worldwide, and the Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court. Genevieve is a graduate of the Faculty of Law at McGill University and a member of the Quebec Bar.
You can find Genevieve’s article, “Thinking Past Rights: Towards Feminist Theories of Reparations” (2012). 30 Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice open access here.
The notion of reparations encompasses debates about the relationship between individual and society, the nature of political community, the meaning of justice, and the impact of rights on social change. In international law, the dominant approach to reparations is based on individual rights. This normative framework is out of step with the understanding of reparations circulating among many women activists. I develop a theoretical approach to justice and reparations that helps to explain the gap between the international normative framework and activist discourses. Based on distributive, communitarian, and critical theories of justice, I argue that reparations can be thought of as rights, symbols, or processes. Understanding reparations as either rights or symbols is rife with problems when approached from an activist and feminist theoretical standpoint. As decisions about reparations programs are and should be determined by the political, social, economic, and cultural context, a blueprint for ‘a feminist reparations program’ is impractical and ill-advised. However, the strongest feminist approach to reparations would depart from an understanding of reparations as a process.