[-empyre-] Vor dem Gesetz/Before the Law, hoveringly

Christina Spiesel christina.spiesel at yale.edu
Sat Nov 22 09:48:52 EST 2014

Thank you, Johannes!

And now asking a favor:

1) I do not want to sidetrack the empyre discussion although my query is 
in part engendered by the conversation, so if any of you knows 
something, you might just want to email me directly. Or if it is 
relevant to the on-going conversation, by all means respond to the list.
2) This is an academic research question.
3) The answer(s) lie in local knowledge of South Asian legal culture.

Here goes: We have been discussing acts of horrible violence in part as 
a form of political performance. When we have discussed the State, is 
has mostly been about the exercise of war powers. The question that I 
want to raise is specifically about legal culture in the far east.  One 
of the films I referenced when I joined  in this month is called /The 
Act Of Killing./ During the course of the film, real perpetrators of 
horrible mass murder are asked about their acts and re-enact some of 
them without the blood, real bodies, etc.   I remembered  my law 
teaching colleague telling me about a trial in Japan that he witnessed 
-- or I should say he was there for part of a day -- during which a 
still photo of a jailhouse reenactment of the crime with a police 
officer acting the part of victim was presented as evidence. Meanwhile, 
this same colleague interviewed a South Korean colleague of his at 
another institution.  Apparently in South Korea re-enactments often 
occur with cases and they are performed out in the open, fully public, 
after a confession but before a jury is chosen, etc. With today's 
communications, there is no structural reason why all potential jurors 
would not have seen this before they are called for service on the court 
case. So I am wondering about whether South Asian countries have related 
practices. The site of the film is Indonesia and I am wondering whether 
its re-enactments arise in part from a specific cultural context local 
to the story and that they would in some sense have a legal dimension 
that is not apparent to us viewing the film in America.   Anyone know 
anything about this?

With thanks,

Christina Spiesel

On 11/21/2014 2:29 PM, Johannes Birringer wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> thank you Christina for offering a clear and sober approach to the conflagrations and to absolute violence which have been discussed, and you counsel making, naming, small acts, conversation,
> small acts. I agree with you, and that is direct, for me, and not, perhaps, paraphrasable.
> [Christina schreibt]
> <<I have been writing about education in the arts/humanities as critical in resisting technocratic culture's limited interest in human capacity.
> So I see cultural production. and not just education about it,  as a form of resistance. ....So while it is hard to match advanced weaponry, it is easy for
> people who feel powerless to address it through violent performance. And so we watch it all unfolding. So what can mere mortals do? For starters,
> name what is going on which I have experienced this conversation as doing. Be makers. Protect what we can. Small acts make ripples.>>
> What does happen, and of course i am included in this when i reference the readings i have done or the listening to fellow artists/cultural workers and their plays or performances, is that sometimes the analysis or
> the philosophy of just war or unjust war, and the naming of all the horros, the speaking about trauma, the speaking of "technocratic culture's limited interest in human capacity",  take on a different dress. Our extended theorizing
> shrouds too.
> I am glad Aneta has arrived and just posted her long and intricate prose, which of course was partly a sketching of the critical landscape for this new book on endangered bodies...... And now that I reflect,
> as I did when Monika first mentioned the metaphor of the garden, I am trying to understand what you mentioned, this "necropolitics", this war machine, this pop-up body [?} [and Ana just thought we needed to see this photo [!],]
> this gendered constellation, this "new ethical aesthetic .. developed with regard to performing protest and activism."   Never mind the diplomat idea. Or, well, okay, has someone here felt they acted as a diplomat
> and dissensus-maker?  You may well have.  (> they desire, as a performer-diplomat, to leave “the question of the number of the collective open, a question that, without him, everyone would have a tendency to simplify somewhat”<)
> Hmm, I don't understand this paraphrase from Latour/Rancière..
> Well, Aneta, now you have thrown out a number of ideas! We have to grapple.
> And I had also invited your co-editor Marina Gržinić to the table, as I had heard about her writings ("Necropolitics, Racialization, and Global Capitalism --
> Historicization of Biopolitics and Forensics of Politics, Art, and Life"), but unfortunately Marina declined.  In fact a number of people declined.
> The other day I cited from Hamed's play ("Home is in Our Past") and when I remember it, the "no" actually was the most reverberant single word I heard next to the unbelievable vocal performance
> by the woman singer which cut to the bone and was untranslatable.  The man/soldier/immgrant in the mud, the one submerged in the dirt and the grey mass of vile liquid, he probably could not hear her.
> Johannes Birringer
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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