Back to RJ Archive

Punishment, Guilt and Spirit in Restorative Justice – An Essay in Legal and Religious Anthropology

Mackay, Robert
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) Paper presented at the Fourth International Conference of the International Network for Research on Restorative Justice for Juveniles. Tübingen, Germany, 1-4 October.

In his paper Mackay identifies anthropological findings- particularly in the fields of ancient law and religion- that challenge the advocacy of restorative justice. Specifically, according to Mackay, legal anthropology shows that ‘restorative’ ideas and practices can coexist with retributive and punitive ideas and practice -such as appeasement of the dead and other spirits, and sacrifice. In this context Mackay re-examines the “genealogy�? of punishment, the meaning of guilt, and beliefs and actions relating to the spirit realm. He concludes that proponents of restorative justice cannot talk of replacing retributive justice without taking into account the powerful dynamics of punishment, guilt, and spirit.


AbstractEuropeRJ in SchoolsStatutes and Legislation
Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now