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Contemporary manifestations of terrorism, unlike earlier anarchist versions of terror, evince an intimate connection between a desire for absolute order in both secular and religious forms. The so called war of civilizations can in fact be claimed to be a civil war within monotheism, the defining characteristic of which is the propensity to legislate.
The most prominent feature of this war is fervour for religious texts. Political responses to terrorism exemplify the limits of legislation. Law cannot provide the order that it promises, and yet we witness a desire for more law on both sides of the divide, East and West, liberal and fundamentalist. This obsessive fascination with law has an underside of terror.
Text and terror have common linguistic roots in the legal term territory and competence over it. Terror belongs to the outside, to that which is beyond the limit, outside the text, extra territorial. Law, Text, Terror brings together a series of essays that for the first time address the mutual constitution of law and terror in terms of the forms of textual belonging. Specific contributions include the tracing of the terrifying possibilities of legalism within the seemingly religious context of Islamic politics. Other contributors address the use of images and other modern media to promulgate Western law, as well as looking at how the rituals and tribunals of law establish a sense of belonging and of cohesion in juridically framed community
At a time when the legitimacy of master texts and the legal framework of community are subject to challenge both nationally and internationally, East and West, Law, Text, Terror brings together a group of leading international scholars to provide a unique and stimulating account of the ritual functions and effects of law both in maintaining community and in underscoring the horror that accompanies the realization of the limits of law.