Barkan is also founding Director of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation (IHJR) at the Salzburg Seminar. The IHJR promotes reconciliation in societies divided by historical conflicts and human rights abuses. Working with educational and public policy communities, the IHJR organizes and sponsors historical dialogues in pursuit of accountability, acknowledgement, and the resolution of historical disputes that inflame and aggravate contemporary conflict, thereby promoting tolerance and reconciliation. The IHJR aims to turn historical dialogue into a fundamental tool of political reconciliation.
Barkan previously served Claremont Graduate University in Los Angeles, CA, where he served as Chair of the History and of the Cultural Studies Departments, and was the founding Director of the Humanities Center.
Barkan's research focuses on the role of history in contemporary society and politics, with particular emphasis on the response to gross historical crimes and injustices, and human rights. His recent books include The Guilt of Nations: Restitution and Negotiating Historical Injustices (2000); Claiming the Stones/Naming the Bones: Cultural Property and the Negotiation of National and Ethnic Identity, (an edited volume with Ronald Bush, Getty, 2003); Taking Wrongs Seriously: Apologies and Reconciliation (an edited volume with Alexander Karn, Stanford University Press, 2006).
Barkan received his PhD from Brandeis University in Comparative European History and BA from Tel Aviv University.