Cultural Justice

Houston’s Fourth Ward/Freedmen’s Town

I have posted on SSRN a working paper “Justice and the Cultural Heritage Movement: Using Environmental Justice to Appraise Art and Antiquities Disputes” which attempts to make connections between the environment and culture.

The piece introduces the concept of cultural justice. It uses the recent scholarship examining environmental justice to apply critical scrutiny to the calls for repatriation of cultural heritage (including art and antiquities). The paper applies Rawls’s theory of justice to cultural heritage and presents a taxonomy of cultural justice examining in detail the distributive, procedural, corrective and social aspects.

The environmental justice movement has been an important grassroots effort which allows minority and underpriviliged communities to challenge environmental harms. It has its roots in Houston. I use as a starting point the cultural harm which has taken place here in Houston to a neighborhood called the Fourth Ward, at one time referred to as the “Harlem of the South”, which has fallen victim to cultural loss and over-development. In the piece I work to make broader observations about culture, the environment, and justice, focusing specifically on antiquities law and policy. It is my hope that by using justice we can begin to move beyond the source/market entrenchment and craft real solutions. I would of course welcome any comments or criticisms (derek.fincham ‘at’ gmail.com).

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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