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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2023
Print publication year:
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Creative Commons:
Creative Common License - CC Creative Common License - BY Creative Common License - NC Creative Common License - ND
This content is Open Access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Book description

In this book, James Gallen provides an in-depth evaluation of the responses of Western States and churches to their historical abuses from a transitional justice perspective. Using a comparative lens, this book examines the application of transitional justice to address and redress the past in Ireland, Australia, Canada, the United States and United Kingdom. It evaluates the use of public inquiries and truth commissions, litigation, reparations, apologies, and reconciliation in each context to address these abuses. Significantly, this novel analysis considers how power and public emotions influence, and often impede, transitional justice's ability to address historical-structural injustices. In addressing historical abuses, power fails to be redistributed and national and religious myths are not reconsidered, leading Gallen to conclude that the existing transitional justice efforts of states and churches remain an unrepentant form of justice. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.


‘This compelling book offers a radical critique of transitional justice efforts in liberal democracies. Challenging readers to interrogate their investment in half-hearted redress, James Gallen emphasises that we cannot make amends for violent pasts without dismantling foundational elements of the liberal legal order. Transitional justice is the work of generations, and there can be no shortcuts.’

Máiréad Enright - University of Birmingham

‘Sweeping and broad-ranging in its scope, this is an ambitious, original treatise on the way forward for the political and legal redress of past abuses committed by Church and State. Gallen powerfully argues for a distinct justice response to these international historical abuses, one that transcends orthodox principles of transitional justice to challenge structural power relations. The book makes significant contributions to the ontological process of truth-telling for different groups of survivors in various jurisdictions, as well as to the study of transitional and transformative justice. It is essential reading for practitioners and scholars of historical and institutional abuses across the West.’

Kate Gleeson - Macquarie University

‘This book offers a wide-ranging, critical analysis of the historical abuses of church and state in western societies within a transitional justice framework. Well-written and highly accessible, it is a timely and very important contribution to the literature. This book will be a key text for decades to come.’

Anne-Marie McAlinden - Queen’s University Belfast

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Full book PDF
  • Transitional Justice and the Historical Abuses of Church and State
    pp i-ii
  • Transitional Justice and the Historical Abuses of Church and State - Title page
    pp iii-iii
  • Copyright page
    pp iv-iv
  • Dedication
    pp v-vi
  • Contents
    pp vii-viii
  • Acknowledgements
    pp ix-x
  • Table of Cases
    pp xi-xiv
  • Part I - Understanding Justice for Historical Abuses
    pp 1-132
  • 1 - Introduction
    pp 3-23
  • 2 - Otherness and Violence in States, Christianity, and Institutions
    pp 24-54
  • 3 - Historical-Structural Injustice
    pp 55-80
  • 4 - Power
    pp 81-105
  • 5 - Emotions and Dealing with the Past
    pp 106-132
  • Part II - Assessing Transitional Justice for Historical Abuses of Church and State
    pp 133-290
  • 6 - Investigating Historical-Structural Injustices
    pp 135-163
  • 7 - Litigation and Historical-Structural Injustices
    pp 164-195
  • 8 - Reparations
    pp 196-222
  • 9 - Apologies
    pp 223-247
  • 10 - Reconciliation
    pp 248-274
  • 11 - Conclusions
    pp 275-290
  • Appendices
    pp 291-318
  • Appendix 1: - Public Inquiries
    pp 291-305
  • Appendix 2: - Reparations and Redress Schemes
    pp 306-308
  • Appendix 3: - State and Church Apologies
    pp 309-318
  • Bibliography
    pp 319-364
  • Index
    pp 365-384


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