Maeve McKeown

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Maeve McKeown
Home Postdoctoral Fellowship ProgrammFellows 2014/2015Maeve McKeown

Maeve McKeown

Research topic

Should Europe pay reparations to the Caribbean for historic slavery?

Project outline

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is proposing to sue former slave-owning European countries for reparations for slavery.  This follows the successful Mau Mau case, in which over 5,000 Kenyans received compensation from the British government for torture suffered under the historic colonial regime.  In this research project, I apply Iris Marion Young’s distinction between the “liability model” and “social connection model” of responsibility to CARICOM’s claim, developing the relationship between forward-looking and backward-looking responsibilities for historical injustice.  I aim to address several questions:

  1. By employing the legalistic “liability model” of responsibility, does CARICOM’s claim depend upon a simplistic victim/perpetrator binary?  If so, what can the “social connection model” add to the analysis of this particular reparations claim?
  2. Who are the relevant agents: should the Caribbean countries as a group (CARICOM) be suing particular European states?  Can supra-state collectivities be awarded compensation if they didn’t exist at the time of the wrongdoing?  How can states bear responsibilities for wrongdoings over time?
  3. Can European citizens be expected to pay for the historic injustice of slavery?
  4. To what extent do reparations claims challenge mainstream abstract idealist narratives in the Global Justice literature?

Scholarly Profile

Maeve McKeown is currently completing her PhD at UCL (University College London).  Her thesis is titled, “Responsibility Without Guilt: A Youngian Approach to Responsibility for Global Injustice.”

Main Areas of Research

Political Theory, Critical Theory, Feminist Theory, Moral Philosophy