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Fictions of Justice


  • Page extent: 352 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.64 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521889100)

Cambridge University Press
9780521889100 - FICTIONS OF JUSTICE - The International Criminal Court and the Challenge of Legal Pluralism in Sub-Saharan Africa - By Kamari Maxine Clarke


This compelling volume takes up the challenge of documenting how human rights values are embedded in a new rule of law regime to produce a new language of international justice that competes with a range of other religious and cultural formations. It explores how declarations of “justice,” like “law,” have the power to bury the normative political apparatus within which they are embedded, thereby obscuring the processes of their making. The book demonstrates how these notions of justice are produced as necessary social fictions – as fictions that we need to live with. By examining the making of the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court in multiple global sites, the application of its jurisdiction in sub-Saharan Africa, and the related contestations on the African continent, the author details the way that notions of justice are negotiated through everyday micropractices and grassroots contestations. Among these micropractices are speech acts that revere the protection of human rights, citation references to treaty documents, the brokering of human rights agendas, the rewriting of national constitutions, demonstrations of religiosity that point out the piety of religious subjects, and ritual practices of forgiveness that involve the invocation of ancestral religious cosmologies. By detailing the rendering illegible of certain justice constructs and the celebration of others, the book journeys through the problem of incommensurability and the politics of exclusion in our social world. In an attempt to pay attention to the diverse expressions of justice within which theories of legal pluralism circulate, the author ends by calling for a critical transnational legal pluralism. This approach takes seriously the role of translation and the making of fictions of meaning as they play out in unequal relations of power.

Kamari Maxine Clarke is a professor of anthropology at Yale University and a research scientist at the Yale Law School. Her areas of research explore issues related to religious nationalism, legal institutions, international law, the interface between culture and power, and their relationship to the modernity of race and late capitalist globalization. Her recent articles and books have focused on transnational religious and legal movements and the related production of knowledge and power. They include Mapping Yoruba Networks: Power and Agency in the Making of Transnational Communities (2004) and Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness (2006). Her forthcoming titles are Testimonies and Transformations: Reflections on the Use of Ethnographic Knowledge and Mirrors of Justice: Law and Power in the Post–Cold War Era. Professor Clarke has lectured throughout the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean on a wide range of topics. She is Director of the Center for Transnational Cultural Analysis and Chair of the Yale Council on African Studies.


Cambridge Studies in Law and Society aims to publish the best scholarly work on legal discourse and practice in its social and institutional contexts, combining theoretical insights and empirical research.

The fields that it covers are: studies of law in action; the sociology of law; the anthropology of law; cultural studies of law, including the role of legal discourses in social formations; law and economics; law and politics; and studies of governance. The books consider all forms of legal discourse across societies, rather than being limited to lawyers’ discourses alone.

The series editors come from a range of disciplines: academic law, socio-legal studies, sociology, and anthropology. All have been actively involved in teaching and writing about law in context.

Chris Arup
Monash University, Victoria
Martin Chanock
La Trobe University, Melbourne
Pat O'Malley
University of Sydney
Sally Engle Merry
New York University
Susan Silbey
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Books in the Series

Diseases of the Will Mariana Valverde

The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Legitimizing the Post-Apartheid State Richard A. Wilson

Modernism and the Grounds of Law Peter Fitzpatrick

Unemployment and Government: Genealogies of the Social William Walters

Autonomy and Ethnicity: Negotiating Competing Claims in Multi-Ethnic States Yash Ghai

Constituting Democracy: Law, Globalism and South Africa's Political Reconstruction Heinz Klug

The Ritual of Rights in Japan: Law, Society, and Health Policy Eric A. Feldman

The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship and the State John Torpey

Governing Morals: A Social History of Moral Regulation Alan Hunt

The Colonies of Law: Colonialism, Zionism and Law in Early Mandate Palestine Ronen Shamir

Law and Nature: David Delaney

Social Citizenship and Workfare in the United States and Western Europe: The Paradox of Inclusion Joel F. Handler

Law, Anthropology and the Constitution of the Social: Making Persons and Things Edited by Alain Pottage and Martha Mundy

Judicial Review and Bureaucratic Impact: International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives Edited by Marc Hertogh and Simon Halliday

Immigrants at the Margins: Law, Race, and Exclusion in Southern Europe Kitty Calavita

Lawyers and Regulation: The Politics of the Administrative Process Patrick Schmidt

Law and Globalization from Below: Toward a Cosmopolitan Legality Edited by Boaventura de Sousa Santos and Cesar A. Rodriguez-Garavito

Public Accountability: Designs, Dilemmas and Experiences Edited by Michael W. Dowdle

Law, Violence and Sovereignty among West Bank Palestinians Tobias Kelly

Legal Reform and Administrative Detention Powers in China Sarah Biddulph

The Practice of Human Rights: Tracking Law Between the Global and the Local Edited by Mark Goodale and Sally Engle Merry

Judges Beyond Politics in Democracy and Dictatorship: Lessons from Chile Lisa Hilbink

Paths to International Justice: Social and Legal Perspectives Edited by Marie-Bénédicte Dembour and Tobias Kelly

Law and Society in Vietnam: The Transition from Socialism in Comparative Perspective Mark Sidel

Constitutionalizing Economic Globalization: Investment Rules and Democracy's Promise David Schneiderman

The New World Trade Organization Agreements, 2nd Edition Globalizing Law Through Intellectual Property and Services, 2nd Edition Christopher Arup

Justice and Reconciliation in Post-Apartheid South Africa Edited by François du Bois and Antje du Bois-Pedain

Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: A Palestinian Case-Study Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian

Child Pornography and Sexual Grooming: Legal and Societal Responses Suzanne Ost

Darfur and the Crime of Genocide John Hagan and Wenona Rymond-Richmond

Planted Flags: Trees, Land, and Law in Israel/Palestine Irus Braverman

Fictions of Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Challenge of Legal Pluralism in Sub-Saharan Africa Kamari Maxine Clarke

Conducting Law and Society Research: Reflections on Methods and Practices Simon Halliday and Patrick Schmidt


The International Criminal Court and the Challenge of Legal Pluralism in Sub-Saharan Africa

Kamari Maxine Clarke

Yale University

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi

Cambridge University Press
32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013-2473, USA
Information on this title:

© Kamari Maxine Clarke 2009

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2009

Printed in the United States of America

A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication dataClarke, Kamari Maxine, 1966–Fictions of justice : the international criminal court and the challenge of legal pluralism insub-Saharan Africa / Kamari Maxine Clarke.p. cm. – (Cambridge studies in law and society)Includes bibliographical references and index.ISBN 978-0-521-88910-0 (hardback) – ISBN 978-0-521-71779-3 (pbk.)1. Legal polycentricity – Africa, Sub-Saharan. 2. International and municipal law – Africa,Sub-Saharan. 3. Religion and law – Africa, Sub-Saharan. 4. Criminal law – Africa,Sub-Saharan. I. Title. II. Series.KQC105.C58 2009342.6708 – dc22 2008052909

ISBN 978-0-521-88910-0 hardback
ISBN 978-0-521-71779-3 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party Internet Web sites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such Web sites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate. Information regarding prices, travel timetables, and other factual information given in this work are correct at the time of first printing, but Cambridge University Press does not guarantee the accuracy of such information thereafter.

Dedicated to the late Chima Ubani, Nigerian human rights leader, killed under controversial circumstances


Introduction:The Rule of Law and Its Imbrications – Justice in the Making
1         Constructing Fictions: Moral Economies in the Tribunalization of Violence
2         Crafting the Victim, Crafting the Perpetrator: New Spaces of Power, New Specters of Justice
3         Multiple Spaces of Justice: Uganda, the International Criminal Court, and the Politics of Inequality
4         “Religious” and “Secular” Micropractices: The Roots of Secular Law, the Political Content of Radical Islamic Beliefs
5         “The Hand Will Go to Hell”: Islamic Law and the Crafting of the Spiritual Self
6         Islamic Sharia at the Crossroads: Human Rights Challenges and the Strategic Translation of Vernacular Imaginaries
Epilogue: Toward a Critical Transnational Legal Pluralism

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