Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Primetime torture

It's not exactly legal pluralism, but I find it very noteworthy that "Human Rights First" is now devoting an entire webpage to what the organization describes as "primetime torture". The site is very well done and documents how series like "24", "Alias" or "Lost" are part of a process of banalization of torture. Interestingly, the site also argues, on the basis of interviews with ex soldiers, that these representations have a significant impact on the military itself. I am currently working on a piece with Mario Prost on this issue, trying to link "24" specifically with current theoretical debates on the limits of international law.
"Law & popular culture" is not quite "legal pluralism" of course, in that it tells us more about the representation of law than the coexistence of legal systems. But at the same time, representation is its own source of normativity, and in a very real sense, law producing if it ends up shaping how actors believe they are entitled to act in certain circumstances.

1 comment:

Desmond & Jackie said...

hi fred
As you know, I've been working on this too. I do think there's a strong link to legal pluralism. I don't think that TV shows etc are just 'representations' of the legal system - any more than court decisions or the actions by interrogators are representations. They help constitute the meaning and practice of law and in that sense i think there is a very long standing link between popular culture and legal pluralism - most classically in the work of EP Thompson (Moral Economy, Customs in Common, etc.)