Universiteit Leiden

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VVI Research Talk 2023-2024

Radical Restorative Justice: Teachers’ Reflections on Conflict, Trauma, and Hope in Chicagoland Schools

  • Amy Cohen (speaker); Matthew Canfield (Chair/discussant)
Thursday 25 April 2024
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

This article tracks how abolitionist and reformist debates are unfolding within urban schools' attempts to smash the school-to-prison pipeline. We document how Chicago public school teachers are grappling with new “restorative justice” programs and their complex and divergent socio-political and institutional meanings. Based on over forty qualitative interviews with teachers, the article illustrates how difficult widespread implementation of new conflict resolution mechanisms, in the name of restorative justice, are turning out to be. The article analyzes how teachers are interpreting restorative justice practices and the challenges they involve—for students, educators, and school administrators, who learn and teach and work in hierarchical and bureaucratic institutions. Through this analysis, we bring readers face-to-face with some of the broader challenges that abolitionism confronts as a large-scale and world-making project, digging in to show how teachers are having to transform themselves and the work they do as educators in order to meet the calls of the present day and age.


Amy Cohen is the Robert J. Reinstein Chair in law. Amy’s research focuses on two areas of sociolegal scholarship—informal justice, including among people building alternatives to the criminal legal system, and law and economic development, including the law and political economy of agriculture and food. Before joining Temple, she was the John C. Elam/Vorys Sater Professor of Law at The Ohio State University and Professor of Law at UNSW Sydney, where she remains involved in collaborative research projects as an honorary professor.

Registration needed

Lunch will be provided, therefore please register before Thursday, 18 April 2024 by sending an email to vvi-secretariaat@law.leidenuniv.nl.

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