New paper – Communicating law, building peace

As the teaching duties of the academic year subside I am turning my attention to the key task for the next six months: completing a book for the Law and Society Series for Cambridge University Press. I am on academic leave for the first term of next year so I have a clear run at the writing. The book is drawing together all the research I have conducted over the last eight or so years on the geography of war crimes trials, with a particular focus on the establishment and workings of the war crimes chamber in the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am excited about the project, it will be a chance to speak to a series of debates in legal geography, criminology and socio-legal studies on the limits of law, the implications of legal processes on social understandings of justice and the significance of participation in nascent legal processes for the consolidation of states.

These are issues I have been exploring in published work over the last few years, and another paper (co-authored with Michaelina Jakala) has just been published as part of a special issue of the journal Space and Polity. The issue looks at pedagogies of citizenship — to what extent, in what ways and in what contexts is political subjectivity ‘learnt’? We looked at this question through the case of public outreach processes from war crimes trials, and in particular studying a series of seminars designed to communicate the judicial process to survivors of war time sexual violence.  Drawing on the qualitative data gathering in Bosnia and Herzegovina we trace the varied responses of participants in the workshop, categorising these as rejection, dissent and resistance. While each may seem like a hopeless or antagonistic disposition, we trace the productive elements of these stances, from the desire to simply be heard to the possibility of challenging official narratives of justice. If you cannot access a copy of the paper then let me know.

Jakala, M., & Jeffrey, A. (2017). Communicating law, building peace: the pedagogy of public outreach from war crimes courts. Space and Polity, 1-19.

Abstract: There has been a growing interdisciplinary concern with the implications of public outreach processes from war crimes trials for new forms of citizenship in the wake of violent conflict. The enactment of such outreach, through seminars, civil society initiatives and workshops, provides a glimpse of the tensions between different conceptions of justice, belonging and rights in the post-conflict period. Specifically, such events constitute a rare public arena in the more fragmented and securitised domain of international legal practices. This paper focuses on a series of public workshops for survivors of wartime sexual violence carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) 2011–13. Drawing on participant observations and open-ended interviews, we argue that such public outreach programmes can be viewed as a form of pedagogy, where the materials, format and arrangement of the events structure the nature of participation and engagement. In doing so we are making two contributions. First, the discussion advances understandings of public outreach as a form of pedagogy, illustrating how practices of dissent, rejection and resistance animate processes of public outreach. Second, the paper illuminates the role of pedagogy as a governmental instrument, reflecting the micro-situations within which individuals are interpellated into the state.

Alex Jeffrey, July 2017


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