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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.