The impetus to look forward is an American mode of dealing with ugly truths. It’s part of the optimism of America. But we won’t be able to move forward if we don’t deal with the past in the present.  

On this episode of the Civil Squared podcast, host Jennifer Thompson is joined by Dr. Colleen Murphy to discuss the topic of transitional justice theory. Dr. Murphy is the University of Illinois Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law, Professor of Philosophy and Political Science, and Director of Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program.  

She discusses how transitional justice theory is the process of dealing with widespread wrongdoing and shares several of the key steps of the theory.  

The conversation includes background on how transitional justice theory is a practice that has grown outside of the United States in places like Bosnia and Herzegovina and South Africa but presents many opportunities for America to learn from and apply the theory in order for us to move forward on issues of racism and slavery.  

Professor Colleen Murphy is also the Faculty Fellow/Director for the Legal Humanities Research Group at the Humanities Research Institute (HRI) at the University of Illinois. In this capacity she pursues research projects and participates in all activities of the Mellon Legal Humanities Research Group. The Mellon Research Group is funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to HRI to support the development of emerging areas in the humanities. 

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Show Notes:

Articles by Colleen on transitional justice: 

You can follow Colleen and learn more about her work on her website and on twitter. 

About our guest:

Colleen is the Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy & Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also serves as Director of the Women & Gender in Global Perspectives Program in the Illinois Global Institute.   

She received her PhD in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and BA in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. 

Her expertise is in political philosophy, jurisprudence, and engineering ethics. 

Her research focuses on transitional justice and risk. She is interested in the justice of dealing with systemic wrongdoing- past and present- and the moral dimensions of risk analysis and risk mitigation.