Source: (2000) Draft of paper presented at the International Conference on Restorative Justice, Tübingen University, Tübingen, Germany, 1-4 October. TMS (photocopy). Edmonton, Alberta: University of Alberta.

George Pavlich notes the increasing attention restorative justice is receiving in many different spheres and from many different perspectives. Yet this very variety suggests the ambiguity of its various formulations. Pavlich asks, “…what precisely are we understand by the concept, and…how might one assess its promise?�? With these questions in mind, he surveys some important themes in order to re-conceive two of restorative justice’s key promises: the administration of justice distinct from the state’s repressive or rehabilitative responses to crime; and the development of fixed communities to render a limited restorative – rather than a state, legal – justice. The result highlights the paradoxes and dangers associated with fixed images of justice and community and points to a deconstructed alternative. In this alternative perspective, justice is a forever elusive promise surrounded by changing calculations, and community is an attempt to calculate collective solidarity rather than a fixed, consensual, stable reality.