World History and the Work of Reparations


  • Michael Warren Murphy University of Pittsburgh
  • Jackie Smith University of Pittsburgh
  • Patrick Manning University of Pittsburgh
  • Ruth Mostern University of Pittsburgh



Reparations, World history, Global politics


Work for reparations requires interventions by world historians to bear witness to the brutalities of the past as part of a process that seeks truth and reconciliation, along with some measure of accountability and restitution.  Shifting our lens to encompass world history exposes the varied effects of slavery and the slave trade, and it allows us to interrogate national boundaries and hegemonic histories. It also makes visible the myriad forms of resistance to the capitalist world-system, nurturing the radical imagination of alternatives. We discuss work in the United Nations and other global political spaces to advance demands for reparations and introduce contributions to this symposium.

Author Biographies

Jackie Smith, University of Pittsburgh

Jackie Smith is Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of World-Systems Research (2011-2020). Her publish works include: Social Movements and World-System Transformation (with Dawn Wiest); Handbook of World Social Forum Activism (with Scott Byrd, Ellen Reese, & Elizabeth Smythe), Social Movements for Global Democracy, and Coalitions Across Borders (with Joe Bandy).

Ruth Mostern, University of Pittsburgh

Ruth Mostern is professor of history and Director of the World History Center at the University of Pittsburgh .


Beckles, Hilary. 2020. “From Apology to Action: CARICOM’s Call for Reparatory Justice.”

Bello, Walden. 2020. “The Racist Underpinnings of the American Way of War.” Foreign Policy in Focus.

Falcón, Sylvana. 2016. Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activists inside the United Nations. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

Fanon, Frantz, trans. Constance Farrington. [1961] 1968. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press.

Tsutsui, Kiyoteru. 2018. Rights Make Might: Global Human Rights and Minority Social Movements in Japan. New York: Oxford University Press.




How to Cite

Murphy, M. W., Smith, J., Manning, P., & Mostern, R. (2020). Introduction: World History and the Work of Reparations . Journal of World-Systems Research, 26(2), 143–150.



Symposium: Using World History to Inform Work for Reparations