Affective Justice: rethinking the survivor v. perpetrator refrain in international criminal law

Monday, March 25, 2019
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM (ET)
CHS CHS 104 Chase Auditorium
Event Type
Distinguished Visitors-PJHR

Discussion between Distinguished Visitor Kamari Clarke,  professor of anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, and Sara Kendall, senior lecturer in law, University of Kent, UK

The deployment of emotions has critical implications for how we understand justice-making practices through visceral, heartfelt expressions, exclamations, and outbursts that conjoin people according to their emotional practices rather than according to their identities. However, amongst scholars engaged in the study of transitional justice and international court institutions, many of those texts that focus directly on emotive practices miss the opportunity to move beyond frames that individualize emotions and embed them in legal solutions. Relatedly, a broad scholarly tradition has insisted on the development of a framework for recuperating survivors of violence against various offending political elites. This kind of legal triumphalism depends on the presumption of a “victim/survivor” versus “perpetrator” dyad. As morally important as it is to support the cause of survivors of violence, the dyadic “survivor” versus “perpetrator” construct works through affective and emotional practices that should not be disarticulated from what such emotions do in the world. To omit this analysis and emphasize only survivors as the subjects of inequality misses the importance of understanding not only what hate-speech does to produce such constructs but also how such speech acts operate within larger domains of power and inequality. By focusing on individualization and relegating to the margins an analysis of the construction of perpetrators of violence as being outside of macro analysis, scholars trying to advocate an anthropology of international justice end up advocating a liberal and individuated subject that is disarticulated from the conditions of its making. Moving beyond such forms of individualization, this talk/discussion explores what emotions do in the world and what people do with those emotions through the study of international justice assemblages.

M. Kamari Clarke is a professor at Carleton University in International and Global Studies. She also teaches in Law and Legal Studies and Anthropology. Over her career she has taught at Yale University (1999-2012), the University of Pennsylvania (2012-2015), and the University Toronto (2015), and was the former chair of the Council on African Studies at Yale (2007- 2010) and the former director and co-founder of the Center for Transnational Cultural Analysis at Yale. For more than 20 years, Professor Clarke has conducted research on issues related to legal institutions, human rights and international law, religious nationalism and the politics of globalization.


Sara Kendall studies the discursive forms and material practices of international law and global governance. After earning her doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley, where she wrote her dissertation on the Special Court for Sierra Leone, she worked as a researcher in the Department of Public International Law at Leiden University, where she studied the effects of International Criminal Court interventions in Kenya and Uganda. She also taught international relations at the University of Amsterdam before coming to Kent. She is currently working on a book-length project on the International Criminal Court, in which she uses approaches and insights drawn from the humanities, the interpretive social sciences, and critical legal theory. 

Tea at 4:15 p.m.

Sponsored by the Peace, Justice and Human Rights Program in conjunction with the Distinguished Visitors Program 

Get Directions
Event Date
Event Time