Law and Resistance: Toward a Performative Epistemology of the Political Trial, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Law and Resistance

Toward a Performative Epistemology of the Political Trial, 1st Edition

By Awol Allo


240 pages

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Hardback: 9781138693951
pub: 2020-06-01
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Taking Michel Foucault’s genealogical analysis of power and resistance as its starting point, the book asks, from below, is there something in the very nature of law – that is, in its discursive and institutional dynamics, in its spatial, material, and temporal coordinates; in its own conceptual categories, claims, mechanisms, and processes – that makes it something more than the mere instrument and armature of power? If those in power can utilize the devices of law and justice to achieve political ends, isn’t there something about these devices that can accommodate fresh articulations? Contending that there are, indeed, discursive, spatial, and temporal resources that can be reconfigured and redeployed as a counter-power and counter-discourse against sovereignty, the book takes as its focus the judicial apparatus; and, more specifically, the concept of the political or show trial. Examining the landmark political trials of Nelson Mandela, Marwan Barghouti, and Bobby Seale, the political trial, it is argued, evinces a crisis of law and sovereignty: a moment where the submerged crisis of sovereignty appears all across the normative structures of the system. The book thus considers the different ways in which a politics of resistance is enabled in the courtroom: as it uncovers a performative logic that contingently conditions, and thus breaks open, law’s otherwise closed normativity.

Table of Contents


1. Law and Resistance: Beyond a Normative Conception of Law

2. The Political Trial

3. Law and Resistance: Toward a Performative Epistemology of the Political Trial

4. ‘Black man in the white man’s court’

5. Terrorism and Resistance on Trial

6. Slave-Owners as Founding Fathers: Counter-history in the Courtroom

7. Conclusion

About the Author

Awol Allo, Keele University

About the Series

Social Justice

Within a broad geopolitical and intellectual landscape, this new, theoretically engaged, interdisciplinary series explores institutional and grassroots practices of social justice across a range of spatial scales. While the pursuit of social justice is as important as it has ever been, its character, conditions, values, and means of advancement are being radically questioned and rethought in the light of contemporary challenges and choices. Attuned to these varied and evolving contexts, Social Justice explores the complex conditions social justice politics confronts and inhabits – of crisis, shock, and erosion, as well as renewal and social invention, of change as well as continuity.

Foregrounding struggle, imagined alternatives and the embedding of new norms, the Social Justice series welcomes books which critically and normatively address the values underpinning new social politics, everyday forms of embodied practice, new dissident knowledges, and struggles to institutionalise change. In particular, the series seeks to explore state and non-state forms of organisation, analysing the different pathways through which social justice projects are put into practice, and the contests their practice generates. More generally, submissions are welcomed exploring the following themes:

• The changing politics of equality and social justice

• The establishment of alternative, organised sites and networks through which social and political experimentation take place

• The phenomenology of power, inequality and changing social relations

• Techniques of governance through which social change and equality agendas are advanced and institutionalised across different geographic scales

• Institutionalisation of new norms (through official and unofficial forms of institutionalisation) and struggles over them

• Practices of resistance, reversal, counter-hegemony and anti-normativity

• Changing values, practices, and the ways in which relations of inequality and difference are understood

Social Justice is intended as a critical interdisciplinary series, at the interface of law, social theory, politics and cultural studies. The series welcomes proposals that advance theoretical discussion about social justice, power, institutions, grass-roots practice and values/ ethics. Seeking to develop new conversations across different disciplines and fields, and working with wide-ranging methodologies, Social Justice seeks contributions that are open, engaging, and which speak to a wide, diverse academic audience across all areas of the law, social sciences and humanities.

For further information on the series, or to discuss a possible contribution, please contact the Series Editors at:

Davina Cooper, Kings College London, WC2R 2LS, UK
[email protected]

Sarah Lamble, School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX
Tel: +44 (0)207 631 6017
[email protected]

Sarah Keenan, School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX
Tel: +44 (0)207 631 6017
[email protected]


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Courts
LAW / Jurisprudence
LAW / Legal History
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory