There is a growing consensus that reconciliation without economic justice is no reconciliation at all. Indeed, reconciliation and economic transformation are deeply interdependent. Continuing economic inequality is a persistent source of conflict likely to impede reconciliation efforts unless there is political space available through which to contest these inequities. This may involve the redistribution of wealth, land reform, or the payment of reparations—the delivery of a ‘peace dividend’—often resisted by those who have previously enjoyed great wealth. This dialogue focuses on some of the challenges and compromises in economic reform that have underpinned—or undermined—reconciliation efforts in Australia and South Africa, and the struggles that are required to achieve change in the face of intense resistance from political and economic elites. Conflicts over economic transformation are imbued with political power imbalances characterized by the persistence of settler colonial logics and the resistance of those who have benefited from settler regimes.

This dialogue discussed the need to reopen conversations about economic transformation in order to challenge an economic status quo that has failed to effect meaningful material transformation for the most marginalised members of society.

Panel Speakers:

  • Sarah Maddison is Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Melbourne and currently a Van Zyl Slabbert Visiting Professor in Politics at the University of Cape Town.
  • Dr Helen Scanlon, Senior Lecturer and Convenor of the Justice and Transformation Programme in the Department of Political Studies, University of Cape Town.
  • Nivrata Bachu, Project Officer for the Justice and Peacebuilding Programme at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.

Moderator: Professor Tim Murithi, Head of Justice and Peacebuilding Programme at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation & Extraordinary Professor of African Studies, University of Free State (South Africa).

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