Violence and Play in Saddam's Trial

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[In the performance of Saddam’s trial, which culminated in the executions of Saddam and two of his co-defendants, we find both lawmaking and law-preserving violence at work. The new Iraqi State exercised its law-preserving violence when sitting in judgment on Saddam’s own acts of law-preserving violence. Yet the trial was also an affirmation of its own legitimacy on the part of
the new regime, a performance designed to justify and uphold the lawmaking violence of the Iraqi war. The violences of law, the violences which found and reinforce the authority of the state, are anchored in performance. There is a symbiotic relationship between violence and play; the violence of law requires play, and hence the administration of state violence against Saddam and his co-defendants occurred in the form of the rule-bound, orderly performance of the trial. Yet other forms of play, other more spontaneous performances, can disrupt the violence of law. The defiant performances of Saddam and his co-defendants suggest that play can be a strategy for negotiating the violence of law.]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-442
JournalMelbourne Journal of International Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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