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Author Osiel, Mark.

Title Mass atrocity, collective memory, and the law / Mark Osiel
Published New Brunswick, N.J. : Transaction Publishers, [1997]


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Description x, 317 pages ; 24 cm
regular print
Contents 1. Crime, Consensus, and Solidarity -- 2. Solidarity Through Civil Dissensus -- 3. Defendants' Rights, National Narrative, and Liberal Memory -- 4. Losing Perspective, Distorting History -- 5. Legal Judgment As Precedent and Analogy -- 6. Breaking with the Past, Through Guilt and Repentance -- 7. Constructing Memory with Legal Blueprints? -- 8. Making Public Memory, Publicly -- App. Collective Memory in the Postwar German Army
Summary Trials of those responsible for large-scale state brutality have captured public imagination in several countries. Prosecutors and judges in such cases, says Osiel, rightly aim to shape collective memory. They can do so in ways successful as public spectacle and consistent with liberal legality. In defending this interpretation, he examines the Nuremburg and Tokyo trials, the Eichmann prosecution, and more recent trials in Argentina and France. Such trials can never summon up a "collective conscience" of moral principles shared by all, he argues. But they can nonetheless contribute to a little-noticed kind of social solidarity
To this end, writes Osiel, we should pay closer attention to the way an experience of administrative massacre is framed within the conventions of competing theatrical genres. Defense counsel will tell the story as a tragedy, while prosecutors will present it as a morality play. The judicial task at such moments is to employ the law to recast the courtroom drama in terms of a "theater of ideas," which engages large questions of collective memory and even national identity. Osiel asserts that principles of liberal morality can be most effectively inculcated in a society traumatized by fratricide when proceedings are conducted in this fashion
The approach Osiel advocates requires courts to confront questions of historical interpretation and moral pedagogy generally regarded as beyond their professional competence. It also raises objections that defendants' rights will be sacrificed, historical understanding distorted, and that the law cannot willfully influence collective memory, at least not when lawyers acknowledge this aim. Osiel responds to all these objections, and others. Lawyers, judges, sociologists, historians, and political theorists will find this a compelling contribution to debates on the meaning and consequences of genocide
Notes First paperback printing 2000
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Subject War crime trials -- Moral and ethical aspects.
War crime trials -- Social aspects.
Memory -- Social aspects.
LC no. 96050097
ISBN 1560003227 cloth alkaline paper