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We Want What’s Ours is a detailed study of South Africa’s attempts to rectify the deprivation of land suffered by thousands of people under the colonial and apartheid regimes. It teaches a critical lesson about these transitions: remedying past wrongs entails more than distributing money or even returning property, because the dispossessed did not just lose their possessions, they also had their dignity taken from them. A comprehensive remedy for these “dignity takings” involves confronting the underlying dehumanization, infantilization and political exclusion that enabled the dispossession. That is, it requires “dignity restoration” – a remedy based on principles of restorative justice that seeks to rehabilitate the dispossessed and reintegrate them into the fabric of society. Atuahene is a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law.
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