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Political Trials in Theory and History

$120.00 (C)

Jens Meierhenrich, Devin O. Pendas, Josiah Ober, Ron E. Hassner, Kenneth Sexauer, Thomas A. Fudge, Laurence Winnie, Francine Hirsch, Mark Tushnet, Catherine M. Cole, Alexander C. Cook, Marco Jacquemet, Christiane Wilke, William H. Page, John E. Lopatka, Richard Sakwa, Lawrence Douglas
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  • Date Published: February 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107079465

$ 120.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • From the trial of Socrates to the post-9/11 military commissions, trials have always been useful instruments of politics. Yet there is still much that we do not understand about them. Why do governments use trials to pursue political objectives, and when? What differentiates political trials from ordinary ones? Contrary to conventional wisdom, not all political trials are show trials or contrive to set up scapegoats. This volume offers a novel account of political trials that is empirically rigorous and theoretically sophisticated, linking state-of-the-art research on telling cases to a broad argument about political trials as a socio-legal phenomenon. All the contributors analyse the logic of the political in the courtroom. From archival research to participant observation, and from linguistic anthropology to game theory, the volume offers a genuinely interdisciplinary set of approaches that substantially advance existing knowledge about what political trials are, how they work, and why they matter.

    • Offers an account of political trials that is both empirically rigorous and theoretically sophisticated
    • Advances an interdisciplinary approach to the study of political trials
    • Embraces diverse methodological approaches, from archival research to linguistic anthropology to game theory
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a remarkable book. Meierhenrich and Pendas have assembled a wonderful and coherent collection. They offer a new understanding of political trials, one which illuminates both the juridical dimensions of political life and the way political meanings shape courts and trials. Broad in its historical and cultural sweep, impressive in its scholarship, uniformly persuasive, Political Trials in Theory and History will quickly become a must-read among students of law and politics.' Austin Sarat, Associate Dean of the Faculty and William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College, Massachusetts

    'All trials are political. Sometimes we see it, sometimes we don’t. This collection is a marvelous exploration of that often forgotten fact, demonstrating to us the need to be able to appraise the uses of the criminal law and legal process for many kinds of political ends, some of which we have reason to agree with, while others can only appear as highly dubious. This is an intelligent and timely intervention in a field too often shrouded in technicalities.' Martti Koskenniemi, University of Helsinki and Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights

    'Criminal trials are fascinating, as Hollywood learned long ago. Political trials are even better: the stakes are higher; the participants loom larger. These fourteen case studies of major trials, organized in accordance with a framework that the editors provide, are genuinely illuminating and wonderfully engaging.' Michael Walzer, Professor Emeritus, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, New Jersey

    'Political trials in theory and history shows that, in too many trials, it is very difficult to separate the administration of justice from explicit or, more often, implicit political goals. The book makes two key contributions to the understanding of political trials. The first comes from a rather dense, though well-articulated, introductory chapter from the editors. The second is a list of inspiring case-studies devoted to 14 trials held across 25 centuries, from Socrates to Guantánamo Bay.' Daniele Archibugi, International Affairs

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107079465
    • dimensions: 236 x 160 x 30 mm
    • weight: 0.75kg
    • contains: 6 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Political trials in theory and history Jens Meierhenrich and Devin O. Pendas
    2. The trial of Socrates as a political trial: explaining 399 BCE Josiah Ober
    3. The trial and crucifixion of Jesus: a formal model Ron E. Hassner and Kenneth Sexauer
    4. Jan Hus in the medieval ecclesiastical courts Thomas A. Fudge
    5. The French Revolutionary trials Laurence Winnie
    6. The Soviet Union, the Nuremberg Trials, and the politics of the postwar moment Francine Hirsch
    7. 'Brown v. Board of Education': private civil litigation as a political trial Mark Tushnet
    8. The Eichmann trial in law and memory Devin O. Pendas
    9. In the theater of the rule of law: performing the Rivonia trial in South Africa, 1963–4 Jens Meierhenrich and Catherine M. Cole
    10. China's Gang of Four trial: the law v. the laws of history Alexander C. Cook
    11. Anger, honor, and truth: the political prosecution of Neopolitan organized crime Marco Jacquemet
    12. 'This following orders thing is very relative': ascriptions and performances of responsibility in the Causa ESMA, 1983–7 Christiane Wilke
    13. The Microsoft case as a political trial William H. Page and John E. Lopatka
    14. The trials of Khodorkovsky in Russia Richard Sakwa
    15. Nashiri in Gitmo: the wages of legitimacy in trials before the Guantanamo Military Commissions Lawrence Douglas.

  • Editors

    Jens Meierhenrich, London School of Economics and Political Science
    Jens Meierhenrich is Associate Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His books include The Legacies of Law: Long-Run Consequences of Legal Development in South Africa, 1652–2000 (Cambridge, 2008), which won the American Political Science Association's 2009 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award for the best book on politics, government, or international affairs, Lawfare: Gacaca Jurisdictions, 1994–2010 (Cambridge, forthcoming), and, as co-editor, The Oxford Handbook of Carl Schmitt (2016).

    Devin O. Pendas, Boston College, Massachusetts
    Devin O. Pendas is Associate Professor of History at Boston College, Massachusetts. He is the author of The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, 1963–1965: History, Genocide, and the Limits of the Law (Cambridge, 2006) and the co-editor of Beyond the Racial State: Rethinking Nazi Germany (with Mark Roseman and Richard F. Wetzell, Cambridge, 2018).


    Jens Meierhenrich, Devin O. Pendas, Josiah Ober, Ron E. Hassner, Kenneth Sexauer, Thomas A. Fudge, Laurence Winnie, Francine Hirsch, Mark Tushnet, Catherine M. Cole, Alexander C. Cook, Marco Jacquemet, Christiane Wilke, William H. Page, John E. Lopatka, Richard Sakwa, Lawrence Douglas

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