From the trial of Socrates to the post-9/11 military commissions, trials have always been useful instruments of politics. Yet there is still much that we do not understand about them. Why do governments use trials to pursue political objectives, and when? What differentiates political trials from ordinary ones? Contrary to conventional wisdom, not all political trials are show trials or contrive to set up scapegoats. This volume offers a novel account of political trials that is empirically rigorous and theoretically sophisticated, linking state-of-the-art research on telling cases to a broad argument about political trials as a socio-legal phenomenon. All the contributors analyse the logic of the political in the courtroom. From archival research to participant observation, and from linguistic anthropology to game theory, the volume offers a genuinely interdisciplinary set of approaches that substantially advance existing knowledge about what political trials are, how they work, and why they matter.
Offers an account of political trials that is both empirically rigorous and theoretically sophisticated
Advances an interdisciplinary approach to the study of political trials
Embraces diverse methodological approaches, from archival research to linguistic anthropology to game theory
Jens Meierhenrich is Associate Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His books include The Legacies of Law: Long-Run Consequences of Legal Development in South Africa, 1652–2000 (Cambridge, 2008), which won the American Political Science Association's 2009 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award for the best book on politics, government, or international affairs, Lawfare: Gacaca Jurisdictions, 1994–2010 (Cambridge, forthcoming), and, as co-editor, The Oxford Handbook of Carl Schmitt (2016).
Devin O. Pendas is Associate Professor of History at Boston College, Massachusetts. He is the author of The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, 1963–1965: History, Genocide, and the Limits of the Law (Cambridge, 2006) and the co-editor of Beyond the Racial State: Rethinking Nazi Germany (with Mark Roseman and Richard F. Wetzell, Cambridge, 2018).
1. Political trials in theory and history Jens Meierhenrich and Devin O. Pendas2. The trial of Socrates as a political trial: explaining 399 BCE Josiah Ober
15. Nashiri in Gitmo: the wages of legitimacy in trials before the Guantanamo Military Commissions Lawrence Douglas.