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Gavrielides, T. (2021). Race, Power and Justice: The Restorative Dialogue we will not have. Abingdon: Routledge.

ISBN 978-1-4724-8835-0

DOI: 10.4324/9781003194576

Gavrielides at the 4th USA National Conference on Restorative Justice, 2013 Toledo, USA

Gavrielides chairing the lecture “Hate Crime and Restorative Justice” (UK – 2015)

“Race equality in probation” Gavrielides’ consultation (2013 – London)

The book was shortlisted as one of the three finalists for the American Society of Criminology-Division of International Criminology (ASC-DIC) Outstanding Book Award 2023

I have always felt that there was something lingering in the background of all my projects, work and writings. A bigger picture that I could not see. The issue that I would not address. The dialogue that I would not have.

This feeling became gradually stronger, as I learned to observe myself, my actions (or inactions), fears and insecurities. My background in legal studies as well as my day job did not help with this process. In fact, they distracted me from investigating further this lingering feeling.  Philosophy and privileged moments of true dialogue with friends and colleagues helped me to start painting the hidden picture… 

As brain specialists and cognitive psychologists would claim, we create meanings through a process of visualization of images infused with feelings that lead to connections. The word ‘table’, for instance, creates a visual image of a surface (most often square) standing on four legs. Conversely, when viewing something resembling this image, our brain labels it as ‘table’. Interestingly, online search engines function in a similar way. Try searching for images using the word ‘table’ and you will most likely get thousands of hits resembling the aforementioned description.

Now, try and visualize the word ‘justice’ or even ‘criminal justice’. When applying the test of using search engines, my hits rendered the same images that were in my mind. These were: the balanced scales of justice, the blindfolded Greek Goddess Themis (again holding the balanced scales of justice and a sword), holding hands or a fist. 

Reflecting on the findings of this homemade test, I came to realise that most of us visualise justice in this way simply because we view it as a virtue, a value-based notion, a higher purpose and an honourable goal that can give essence to our life paths and sacrifices. My brain did not allow me to visualize justice in the form of prisons, courts, suited white men or ministries and politicians.

This then led me to believe that our brains deny diminishing justice to an image anything less than a representation of a higher existence. And yet, when an injustice takes place, we ask for prison bars, tall walls, courtrooms and lawyers. Not for this higher existence.  

I have now come to believe that this subconscious behaviour is by no coincidence. It is part of the hidden picture, which I could not see for years. It is the result of many decades of conscious planning to achieve what Foucault and many others have called “power and control”. By controlling our sense of justice, expectations are directed and the reality can be manipulated. Without this manipulation, there can be change, and change is a thread to the status quo that leads to power abuse and inequality. 

Admittedly, the literature on power, its definitions and different forms, how to develop or diminish it (whether at the inter-personal, inter-community or inter-state level) is rich. And yet, never before have we so silently succumbed to forces of power defining our life purpose, current reality and indeed future. This is a very scary feeling indeed.

But this fear is constructive and honest. It can lead to improvements and change. It is the other kind of fear that I want to expose as dangerous and inconspicuous. As I write this introduction, the world is experiencing unprecedented health and socio-economic impacts, which are compared only to those that followed World War II. We are afraid that we will lose our life, health and independence, income and homes, family and friends. The scale of this unprecedented fear is increased with continuous threats that are brought to our homes, dinner time, private moments and bed time. These may relate to terrorist attacks, financial crises, unemployment, migration and refugee “crises” and viruses. This fear creates dependencies. Dependencies allow control. And control serves the status quo.

I have never believed in conspiracy theories; in fact, my research and legal background made me a rather dull chat friend, as I always ask for evidence. And it is this evidence that I want to present through this book, which aims to paint the hidden picture by starting the dialogue that we’ve never had. We cannot deny what is; we can only learn to observe it, and as we start to awaken, we then seek for tools that will regain the power that we have silently lost through gradual and consensual new forms of slavery. This responsibility is intensified, if we have undertaken a role to serve justice as practitioners, researchers, policy makers or campaigners.  

This project and book respond to this responsibility. They are structured around four concepts, which act as pillars for their arguments and indeed contribution: power, race, justice and restorative justice. This book celebrates 20 years of working in the restorative justice field. During this time, the learning that I was able to receive and give has been incredible, and I hope that each chapter demonstrates and reflects this. 

Dr. Theo Gavrielides

January 2021

“Every time I see a butterfly, I remember how frail and yet how powerful natural beauty is. Compared only with the work of an artist, their fragile wings are more than just for admiration.

They allow the insect to fly, an act that even us humans cannot perform.
But what is more profound about the existence of butterflies is the life path they have to take before they become beautiful flying creatures of admiration.
Starting from a cocoon, they are first caterpillars, crawling for their survival. 

Our true existence follows the same life journey.

Our first awakening is the cocoon that will lead to our first becoming.
I hope that this book pulls all of us cocoons towards our true existence”.

 

Dr. Theo Gavrielides

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Theo Gavrielides, PhD, is a legal philosopher and a restorative justice expert. He is the Founder and Director of the Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All) International Institute, and the Founder of The IARS International Institute. He is a visiting professor in universities in the UK and abroad, and the Editor-in-Chief of RJ4All Publications, the International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, the Youth Voice Journal and the Internet Journal of Restorative Justice. He has edited over 20 books, and published extensively on restorative justice, violent radicalisation, criminal justice, human rights, youth justice and equality

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The book is structured around four concepts, which act as pillars for its arguments and indeed contribution: power, race, justice and restorative justice. These concepts are brought under one roof and challenged for two reasons.

First, I want to create a normative and practical framework that can be used to counter-balance power abuse and the way in which it is manifested in inter-personal, inter-community or inter-state affairs, relationships, conflicts and partnerships. As I observe the growing inequalities that are being manifested in our modern societies, I challenge the way power and race have been interpreted. I open the debate that we won’t have to construct new conceptual methodologies, which I believe respond to our modern realities. I do so with outmost respect to the race equality movement, while acknowledging the rich literature on power, and bearing in mind that some of my arguments will make uncomfortable reading. 

Second, I want to elevate justice, and restorative justice in particular, as I claim responsibility for not challenging them enough during times that communities needed them. Like most servants of justice and other members of the restorative justice movement, I became victim of the subconscious methodologies that the powerful employ to maintain the status quo. As I am awakening, I challenge restorative justice as a potential bio-power that can counter-balance existing inequalities and the misuse of power by top-down structures. To this end, firstly, I take a position as to how I understand restorative justice by reviving Classical Greek philosophy and Aristotle in particular. I then move on to claim that restorative justice can be morally problematic. Its practices and teachings are painful and thus can only be legitimised within a philosophical framework that has clear and attainable objectives. This pain is also power, and a tool that can be used to address inequality and injustices. This pain is a process not an outcome, which leads to self-reconstruction. Existing normative narratives aiming to justify this pain did not satisfy me, and thus I use this book to present my concept of restorative pain and catharsis. This analysis then leads me to propose a philosophical justification of restorative justice, which acknowledges its harsh and sometimes cruel nature as well as its limitations and own power-interest battles. 

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I am interested to hear your views on the matter. We are also looking for partners, sponsors and organisations who can support our cause.

Book audience: Senior-level capstone courses and upper-level seminars that review and expand on key areas of study in restorative justice, criminology, social sciences, social theory, psychology and positive psychology, law, neuroscience, human rights, criminal justice, and political science departments. The book is also intended for researchers, policymakers, practitioners and campaigners from around the world.

Episode 4: Power, Race & restorative justice June 2020

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