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Accepted Paper:

“History Will Be the Judge”: The longue durée of structure of feeling and responsibilities on Palestine at two Berlin courts.  
Sophia Hoffinger (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing from courtroom ethnography, this paper analyses how activists seek to transform the (legal) structure of feeling around Palestine in Berlin. "History" becomes the mediator of tensions between law and legitimacy, between the need to resist imperial-colonial violence and the legality thereof.

Paper long abstract:

In August 2020, a Palestinian and two Israeli-Jewish anti-colonial activists were taken to the criminal court of Berlin, Germany, for disrupting an event with a member of the Israeli Knesset, they deemed complicit in the 2014 military assault on Gaza. Attempting to subvert the logic of the court, the three defendants declared that they stood in front of the judge “as the accuser, not the accused” (Mondoweiss, 2019), turning the court into a stage of their own, with the purpose to address Israeli human rights violations and Germany’s complicity in them. Indeed, whatever the verdict of the judge, the People’s Tribunal that took place simultaneously, already declared “History” to be the ultimate authority over the legitimacy of their actions.

This presentation draws from courtroom ethnography of the trial of the #Humboldt3 to analyse how the three activists seek to transform the structure of feeling around Palestine, from the geopolitical location of Berlin. ‘History’ becomes the mediator of the tension that arises between ‘law’ and ‘legitimacy’, between the need to resist imperial-colonial violence and the legality thereof; one that People’s Tribunals grapple with (Çubukçu 2018), while at the same time affirming the activists’ transcendental moral position (Scott 2020). As such, the two courts in Berlin can provide an insight into how activist navigate and hope to transform the meaning of law and legitimacy in the present, within the grand durée of History.

Panel P120a
Legal Worlds; Worlding Law
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -