Emerging Conceptions of Justice
in a Global Arena
THE CIVIL RIGHTS AND OTHER MOVEMENTS within the United States are examples of progressive moves toward social justice. Other nations have experienced even broader movements, which have brought greater justice in some ways and problematic outcomes in others. We will focus on a few in diverse locations to offer insight into the justice motives and varied outcomes of these actions worldwide. It is intended that these examples will offer insight into the process of these historical times, the progress attained, and the lessons offered. Many books offer more complete descriptions of these points in history, and we encourage readers to consult these works.
The history of South Africa is very much the history of countries throughout the continent of Africa. While it is now one country, it is a large geographical area of diverse terrain and inhabitants. As Ross (1999) describes, the people of the region, not yet one country, were divided by space, economic interests, political interests, and other realities as European colonization of the region began. The economic interests of Europe through this colonization quickly set the pattern for what would become the country of South Africa. Local politics were contained through the mutual interests of local political elites in the economic success of European colonial enterprises (Ross 1999; see also Norval 1996).
While resistance to slavery and other European savageries continued among the population, the complicity of local elites assured the continued influence of European ideas and norms, including Christianity, educational structures, rigid sexual divisions of labor and domesticity, and the social, political, and economic dominance of Europeans. This dominance was attained within the four colonies that unified in 1911 to form what is the current nation of South Africa. Soon after unification, laws for segregation (apartheid) were devised and implemented to maintain the dominance of the white minority over the majority nonwhites of the country (Ross 1999).1