Affective Justice Symposium: An Anthropology of International Criminal Justice Across Multiple Scales–A Response to Commentaries

Affective Justice Symposium: An Anthropology of International Criminal Justice Across Multiple Scales–A Response to Commentaries

[Kamari Maxine Clarke is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Los Angeles.]

I thank Sara Ali for her role in organizing this symposium, as well as Kevin Heller (with assistance from Jessica Dorsey) at Opinio Juris for his willingness to host it. I am especially grateful to the eleven commentators for the tremendous work that went into reading and engaging with Affective Justice. In the spirit of collegial exchange, I will now turn to each response.

Sarah Nouwen’s review offers an excellent starting point as she maps out a parallel set of encounters that she experienced ten years earlier in Sudan. The goal was to not only to concur with the book’s argument about embodied feelings and their manifestations in the articulation of international justice, but to also explore the nature of their disjunctures –their different emphases and feelings.  Yet, given the contested terrain on which issues addressing the culpability for mass atrocity crimes and their solutions lie, Nouwen’s critique lies in the call for more thick description, more depth and more detail through which to understand the particularities of the Pan-African push-back.  My response to this yearning is tied up in the joy and curse of ethnographic observation in high profile socio-juridical and political spaces. 

The opening of Affective Justice explains that the data collection took place over a six-year period.  The first half involved both participant observation in various international justice spaces in The Hague and in and around the African Union in Addis Ababa and Nairobi. However, it was not until the second half of the research (from 2015-2018) that I took on a more intimate advisory role that not only gave me insider access to the interstitial social life of African Union socio-political and legal circles but also set limitations on what I could publish.  I attended a range of multi-day closed-door meetings, such as closed door meetings in which African states added the immunity clause to the Malabo Protocol for the African Court, also meetings related to the African Court’s ratification challenges, as well as those meetings involving various consultations connected to ICC-Africa issues.  Such access required that I balance insider privileges with parallel commitments to confidentiality.  What this meant was that although the daily African Union banter took place around me, and although people expressed deeply emotive feelings that were sometimes contrary to official declarations, they were also collected under particular confidentiality agreements. 

This limitation created limitations as well as new research possibilities. The possibilities led me to focus on the way that embodied affects circulate publicly through emotional regimes.   One of them involved a focus on the afterlives of affective embodiments. That is, the way that embodied affects circulate publicly through emotional regimes.  This attention to emotional domains of engagement that take shape within various institutional vocabularies and are manifest in and through the law, public cultural utterances, humor, and so forth, offers insights into the afterlives of affective embodiments.  It is these afterlives of embodied emotion (seen through public emotion) that constitutes important data for understanding the varying domains through which notions of justice travel. The book is full of these political emotions that shape the afterlife of embodied feelings.  As such, Affective Justice tacks between different social actors, their institutions, and discourses. It is not a traditional ethnography in which the voices of the traditional subaltern alone form the basis for ethnographic data.  Despite having a much thicker arsenal of various people’s confidential reflections, my writing commitment has been to show how all of the above knowledge domains, mapped across different scales of engagement, constitute the complexities of affective justice in the contemporary moment.

Like Nouwen, Katherine Lemons also calls for thick description.  But first she does a few other things.  Her opening draws from Affective Justice the argument that law is political, and that legal processes constitute justice in relation to the political ends they serve. She is less compelled by my parallel argument that law’s potentiality for justice is embedded in emotional aspirations for social change, which are continually subject to negotiation within biopolitical domains, affective regimes and embodied practices exceed our understandings of the “political” or the “social.”

If, for Lemons, justice is a moving target and thus frustrating to pin down in Affective Justice, then the book has achieved what I intended. For the intention has been to insist upon and illuminate the complexities and contradictions of justice while also positioning it within an assemblage of possibilities. Lemons pinpoints the book’s core philosophical commitments when she recalls that justice lies in a procedure of addressing sedimented histories of structural inequality and violence. She alsolocates the key problem of Affective Justice as one of scale and, in particular, the tensions between the promise of an African court and the application of local systems. How do various everyday people understand the linkages and distinctions between these formations? How might the feelings of non-supporters of international human rights law be generative in shaping the afterlife of Pan-Africanist justice? How might a more granular account of specific local struggles offer alternate ways of understanding justice? These questions are good ones and point to the difficulty in studying transnational justice processes while accounting for, at every step and scale, the various ways that people engage and reattribute meaning.

Although Affective Justice is not able to characterize and trace each formation, it does assert that reattribution is a central mechanism to the genesis and circulation of the various responses at play – political, revolutionary, legal, and so forth. The book argues, I believe successfully, that the friction evident in the making of justice is a central component of justice itself. Affective Justice focuses on the Pan-Africanist pushback as one particularly fraught and challenging form of engagement. But there are many pathways that merit empirical investigation, including the voices of Nigerian families. And this is where Lemons’ critique parallels Nouwen’s. The point – we need more voices.   In this regard, Affective Justice is a contribution towards the complexities of transnational fieldwork and the afterlives of embodied feeling.  It highlights contexts that are sometimes (1) unknowable by social science research (e.g. the depths of emotional pain experienced by families), (2) unpublishable observations (acquired with consent to observe but not to publish), and (3) expansive scales of connection that are impossible to map in their entirety.  

If I have any disagreement with Lemons it relates to her critique of Chapter 3, which centers on the #TheBringBackOurGirls campaign in Nigeria. Lemons takes care to point out that it is possible to both recognize the deep conditions of inequality that make Boko Haram viable while also criticizing their tactics. I certainly agree and do not take issue with the duality of this critical understanding. But I worry that Lemons, who has not fully accepted the centrality of embodied affects that is at the core of the book, has missed the contribution that this chapter intends to make. Quite apart from any political commentary on Boko Haram, this chapter  explores analytically how legal encapsulation has contributed to the production of a new justice formation that has allowed a particular type of reattribution to play out through the erasure of the embodied and raced female figure and its replacement with a new set of justice ideals. This chapter and case study is critical to the thesis of the book as a whole as it so vividly illuminates how affective embodiments, cultural politics, and racial aesthetics are interwoven in changing technologies in which new transnational justice formations are taking shape.

Mark Goodale’s review compels a reconsideration of the relationship between justice and law. He highlights what he sees as three of the core contributions of the book and ends by raising key questions that return us to the possibility of envisioning justice outside of its biopolitical instrumentalities. I appreciate Goodale’s attempt to engage with how Affective Justice calls for a reconsideration of orthodox relationships between justice and law, calling us to recognize that law should be understood as an institution that governs through the production and management of public sentiments “reattributed” through categories of power. It is these categories of power, such as that of the law, which frame my attempt to makes sense of the African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court) as a one of the domains in which African stakeholders are reattributing culpability. My argument is that it is important to locate the discourses that surround the viability of, for example, demands for the surrender of African leaders in relation to larger histories of subordination that undermine the basis of legitimacy of the ICC. In mapping  the contours of the Pan-Africanist push-back, we are forced to reckon with the contradictory life of the law.

I feel most compelled to reflect on Goodale’s final comments about whether the Pan-Africanist push-back is taking on other forms. He asks whether it has weakened, and if there are other social categories through which “powerful legal institutions regulate populations through affective governmentality.” I would argue that this push-back – what I refer to as reattribution – is a domain that actually lives both within and outside of the law. Law is shaped by histories and politics that set in place the conditions of the possible, and these forces thus influence the forms that various instrumentalities take while also leaving spaces for innovation and refusal. These sites of refusal and alternate possibilities within and outside of the law that also interest me. How do we theorize those moments when legal nomenclature is overturned, or voting patterns produce particular incongruencies, or when contradictory utterances lead to both support for and refusal of the ICC? Each of these are instances of affective justice in action, each worthy of investigation.

Dire Tladi, a lawyer, former diplomat and South African law professor, takes a different direction from Goodale. Tladi is less concerned with the narrowing of justice (what I refer to as legal encapsulation) but is more focused on with the praxis of justice as unequally applied. Tladi usefully calls attention to how the discourses and hegemonies of the international community have the potential to cloak law and justice at the risk of – and at times in the name of – protecting the powerful. It is clear that he is unhappy with the construction of the concept of the international community – a nameless and diffuse collective presumed to act on behalf of our mutual interests brokered among states and group or individual actors. Tladi wonders if this category in fact exists at the same level as the emotionally-charged nameless victim, which the book describes as instrumental to creating a compelling narrative of collective responsibility at times of political convenience. By itemizing three core instances of action in which inequalities have led to unequal treatment of African states and stakeholders, he shows how particular judgements by legal chambers have been launched in the name of the the imaginary of the international community, thus producing a victim versus villain chasm.

I share some of Tladi’s misgivings about the selective application of the efforts of those who fall under the “international community” concept, especially how those constituencies often function to protect their private interests. This detailing of the international imagination is key to the core ideas of the book for it shows us how the force of the law goes well beyond its instrumentality. It demonstrates how its moral force is made real through the social imaginaries it produces. And while I agree that this is the case, I would only argue that we address these developments in relation to theories that demonstrate how the encapsulation of justice propagated by a notion of the international community is actually part of the changing mechanisms through which contemporary justice is becoming institutionalized through legality. Further scrutiny of this process in the case of this particular social imaginary would be productive.

Like Tladi, Edwin Bikundo and Bronwyn Leebaw reflect onthe figure of the “international community.” Where Tladi is not as concerned with the overlapping and contradictory subject locations that the book takes up, Bikundo highlights that justice figures can exist both within and outside African states and agrees that the social location does not determine who occupies the category of the “victim,” “perpetrator” or “international community.” He asks, “what are the affects and emotional regimes that distinguish and/or unite these broad groups and why would that even matter?” Using irony to show that it is irrelevant whether an interlocutor is inside or outside of Africa, African or not African, Bikundo helps to illustrate how critical it is for us to recognize that it is not their identity or subjectivity that separates stakeholders or alternately unites them within a social imaginary such as “the international community.” They are not constituted through nationality, but rather through particular moral assemblages in which the perpetrators, victims/survivors, leaders, etc. engage in particular discursive acts. In short, “the international community is both inside and outside Africa” and is constituted through a range of cross-cutting and complex processes.

I value Bikundo assertion that to suggest that pro-ICC advocates are absent from Affective Justice is to miss the book’s analytic refusal of simplistic and hegemonic dichotomies, which generally assume that the international community is white and that victims and perpetrators are black and African. His commentary leaves us with is the idea that law is a tool for the creation of notions of justice and that, depending on the intentions with which the tool is wielded, it might be used to oppose justice. It becomes clear that the process of making international criminal justice specifically, and law generally, relies upon “victim fetishism and justice fetishism.” This insight is important, and I appreciate the language Bikundo introduces to help articulate the book’s underlying theoretical framework. At its core, Affective Justice aims to make evident the active processes by which international criminal justice is produced not simply through the technocratic production of treaties and laws, but through the making of the regimes of moral fortitude around which collectives of power come to agree on the way forward to a just end.

For Bronwyn, the notion of the “international community” also has some appeal. She tacks from her opening story about a well-meaning neighbor, Mia, and the negative consequences of her intentions to a reflection on how well meaning human rights organizations who have championed anti-impunity causes for decades responded negatively to the African Union’s insertion of a sovereign immunity provision outlined in 46A bis of the Malabo Protocol for the African Court.  She also touches on the unbalanced notion of justice that Tladi takes on – that perceptions of justice are at once complex, yet has been overly reduced to historical categorizations of right/wrong, victim/survivor/perpetrator.  What her commentary affirms is that understanding justice requires that we take seriously the role of affects as an assemblage that, in the contemporary period, must contend with embodied aspirations that both motivate particular actions and that have underlying consequences – seen or unseen.

Nayanika Mookherjee’s commentary asks how the universal desire for justice and the will to explain violence work to reproduce the very violence that activists seek to condemn. She is interested in knowing at what cost, to whom, these stories are re-narrated.While Affective Justice centers on the figures of victim or perpetrator, Mookherjee introduces an important new figure the traitor. Drawing from the Bangladeshi context, Mookherjee moves us beyond the perpetrator-victim binary. It is the figure of the razakar (traitor), which is constantly brought out in Bangladeshi discourse, represents a sign of weakness and an attack on the sovereignty of the state. In considering that other figures ignite localized imaginaries in particular ways, she wonders how ethnographer/activists should relate critically to their field sites and what insights ethnography can best generate. In the context of movements that seek redress for colonialism, genocide, rape, and unresolved traumas, Mookherjee calls for the consideration of academic criticism that generates an “autocritique”, what she sees as ways of documenting the reflexive lives of the people in the social movements about which we write. She ends by asking that we examine how, by explicitly taking political positions, researchers can contribute to progressive politics.

I appreciate Mookherjee’s provocation and agree that it is critical that our work not reinforce problems in the social and political spaces we come to inhabit and reflexively shape as ethnographers. I also concur that researchers should not cause undue harm. However, I call short of fully joining her ultimate conclusion that researchers should thus embrace political positions.  The political is complex, and sincere engagement with both political action and ethical scholarship will consistently reveal the limitations and unintended impacts of advocacy. At times, our research stakes may be shaped by the pursuit of knowledge regardless of the “side of history” one’s praxis takes. Sometimes, the generation of knowledge about violence may not produce liberatory possibilities in the short-term. One hopes that, in the long-term, improved knowledge will help us understand and ultimately address, in however modest a way, the core impetus for violence. Given these complexities in positionality, I have to acknowledge that all research cannot be reflexive or engaged because different projects perform different kinds of work.  

I am deeply appreciative that Mookherjee raised this issue, however, and believe it is critically important for researchers to disclose the genesis of their work and be transparent about the core issues that shape their intellectual missions. In Affective Justice, I am interested less with championing a particular political position than with insisting that there is a range of positions that need to be documented and understood as affective knowledge domains, regardless of the culpability of the actors concerned or our personal views in relation to them.

Olaf Zenker’s piece focuses on two central questions. The first is to ask about the potential of affective justice to “animate extra-legal forms of popular and populist politics, of insurgent citizenship and a return of the political as emanating from ‘living politics’ (Chance 2017) aside from the law.” In raising this, he grapples with how interfaces between the political and legal are reconfigured at the contemporary moment and what role “affective justice” may play in this shifting dynamic. The second question asks us to consider how contemporary constitutionalism has driven an increasing juridification of politics and whether this current period – in which there is an upsurge in ultra-right populism – will have consequences for how we understand affective justice in post-liberal worlds? These are fruitful and important questions.

Zenker also raises a third concern as to whether, if the sentimentalised nature of everyday justice can be understood by exposing the ICC’s narrow legalistic focus on the individual perpetrator to be prosecuted, does the same critique hold relevance in the Global North? By highlighting the various meta-justice forms that underlie international justice, the book seeks to articulate theory that is not particular to ICC and African contexts. Its concepts should be pertinent to the various ways that justice is made real through contemporary emotional regimes, affects, and biopolitical instrumentalities. In raising his critique, Zenker is not fully convinced and proposes that book may have possibly missed the chance to fully appreciate the ironic, if not paradoxical, potential of law. In response, I would remind the reader that law’s emancipatory potential is not in its structure or form. Rather, law’s potential is in its ability to bring about possibility. But this is also its limit. Law’s frameworks – its structures and assumptions – require that we believe in its fiction of justice. Zenker touches on this by recognizing that legalism operates as a “broken promise” with built-in failures. Perhaps we in fact agree more than we disagree. What I have aimed to show is that the way that law operates as a dynamic and manipulatable representation of affective responses is also how it can fail those that it is meant to protect. The narratives surrounding the meaning and manifestations of justice, with which laws are designed to engage, are often constructed by those whose labour can most efficiently produce a hegemonic norm around which emotional regimes take root.

In attempting to push the book into a political debate about the usefulness of the ICC, Richard Wilson’s review misses Affective Justice’s core objective. The primary contribution of the book its exploration of the centrality of emotion and affects—how they work, what they do, and how agents of the court and various leaders and stakeholders within particular empirical contexts deploy and mobilize emotion to steer justice in their favor. Wilson disregards the focus of the book, and instead outlines three points to build an argument that the book falls short of its potential pragmatic and political applications. While Wilson’s points can be viewed as useful markers of additional scholarship in the field, all three fail to engage with the theoretical questions that this book attempts to genuinely address and advance. Instead, his reading takes the focus from Pan-African African responses to legal encapsulation and returns it to the ICC, re-centering the question of how this international body might engage more meaningfully with Africa. This emphasis, which undervalues ethnographic inquiry and reinforces Eurocentric assumptions, is precisely the narrative the book aimed to disrupt.

Believing Wilson’s response to be well-intended towards strengthening the field of legal anthropology, I will take each of his critiques in turn. Wilson articulates what he sees as three shortcomings of the book: (1) a misunderstanding of key components of international criminal law, (2) the erasure of African pro-ICC voices, and (3) the implications of immunity for heads of state who commit mass atrocities. The first point is the most unfortunate, as it amounts to an oversimplification of a deeply contested topic and a dismissal of the book’s primary innovation, which is to illuminate the emotional terrain on which laws are socially imagined, interpreted, legitimized, and deployed in various ways. Over the past twenty years of university teaching, I have always made sure to help my students understand the various spheres within which particular doctrinal, political, theoretical, and conceptual questions are being asked. In any particular case, which knowledge domain is relevant and why? Is it doctrinal, is it political, cultural? Is it theoretical or conceptual? Though they may overlap in complex ways, there is value in demarcating spheres of analysis precisely because the different lenses we apply allow us to see phenomena in new contextual ways. In a field where doctrine is too often presented as truth, I argue that it is important to introduce ways of seeing the social, cultural, and psychological dimensions that are, in fact, powerfully at play.

As an ethnographer of law, power, and legal processes, I am not making a doctrinal argument for or against the African Union’s position on the immunity provision. In conducting the research that led to the book I documented ongoing debates over international criminal law and its reach in African situations. My core analysis demonstrates how law gains its power through the tropes that produce the conditions of legal possibility. In Affective Justice, I was interested in what animates people’s desires to believe in the ICC or to frame the anti-impunity movement. Extrapolating from this ethnographic case, I was also ultimately interested in understanding the underlying issues that shape what we know about justice, including how it is deployed to mobilize social movements. The book addresses contestations around customary international law through debates about the immunity provision conceptualized in the African Court, which is not only a technical legal matter but is also political, ideological, and strategic. Wilson appears to prefer that the book had narrowed its engagement with customary international law as conceptually contested terrain to a technical legal matter, which fundamentally misses the book’s argument that the combination of state practice and opinio juris on personal and functional immunity are interpreted differently by various actors. I continue to oppose narrow technocratic analyses of international law in relation to these Africa-ICC debates precisely because this approach inherently erases both voices of resistance (regardless of the actors) and, more seriously, alternate possibilities for innovation.

Affective Justice explains that the ICC, ICTY, and ICTR have statutory provisions that reject head-of-state immunity. However, in domestic courts, as opposed to international ones, personal immunity remains firmly established as a matter of international law. The larger debate in ICC-Africa circuits is around how functional immunity operates in customary international legal circles for non-state actors. Although functional immunity has undergone a significant narrowing in recent years, the rules of head-of-state immunity for international criminal tribunals are contested when it comes to non-state parties and this had previously led the African and like-minded states to draft a request for an expert ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Wilson understands, why this an important domain for scholarly inquiry. Perhaps we differ in our understanding of just how contested and controversial the topic is, as his critique appears to shut down debate under  a presumption that there is one answer and anyone who presents evidence on the existence of other interpretations has a failure of understanding. By contrast, Affective Justice asks that we take more seriously the insights of various African stakeholders who have been both engaged in instituting criminal trials as well as elevating the urgent need to clarify the immunities question. As a modest corrective to the persistent Eurocentrism of legal literature, my scholarship continues to center varied African responses to international law’s increasing focus on individual accountability through the rise of universal jurisdiction, a focus which in the 2000s led to increasing numbers of European extradition requests of African leaders. The issue of immunity is a site of hugely dynamic inquiry, not of closure.

The second point that Wilson raises is that Affective Justice has erased pro-ICC voices. This point produces the very problem it critiques. Over the twenty years that I have conducted fieldwork in and outside of African countries, I have become increasingly convinced that nuance and complexity are central to daily life, including African lives. This study has attempted to trace how legal encapsulation incites the sorts of multiple and nuanced affective attributions that ultimately constitute a Pan-Africanistist push-back against the underexamined assumptions that underpin international law. The goal was to understand the multiple and strategic forms that this took. No single book can fully characterize all voices engaged across multiple geographic and political sites. The goal of this book was not to produce a grand study of the anti-impunity movement in African circuits, and certainly not to side with one group or the other. Rather, I hope and believe it has been successfully in showing how the emergence of an “international community” engaged in the production of an anti-impunity movement has contributed to a particular narrowing of justice into the framework of legal justice. How has this been accomplished and towards which (un)intended ends? To begin to answer that question in the new way that I focus on the sites of emotion and affects.  This is through the understanding of reattribution., which offers a way of considering how particular grievances are constructed through various social imaginaries that are politically and economically shaped and affectively embodied.

Wilson’s third point is that we should consider the implications of immunity for heads of state for those who commit mass atrocities. He highlights the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Tribunal and the ECOWAS Court of Justice as examples of regional experiments that deserve greater scrutiny. These, he suggests, would be useful to compare to the African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights towards the goal of grappling with pragmatic solutions for Africa. Wilson writes,

“A more constructive third way seeks creative solutions that would integrate the legal and legislative and the national and international to enhance political access, accountability, and participation on the continent. How might the ICC engage more meaningfully with African societies, holding trials locally, reinforcing national judicial capacity, and cooperating with national and regional bodies? How might national, regional, and international legal institutions together constrain executive power and provide accountability for the corrupt and violent, thus opening the space for social movements to challenge the current structure of exploitation and massive inequality?”

Although we know from our anthropology’s grappling with critical reflexivity that my scholarship will be inherently informed by my intersectional identities with black diasporic heritage and networks, I am troubled that Wilson is implying that the ethnographic orientation of this book reflects a  personally promoted commitment to a “relentless pro-immunity” platform.  Rather than flattening my empirically driven findings into an argument that bifurcates pro or anti-immunity stances, it would be productive to address the nature of the inquiry advanced in the book.

While I am pleased to discuss in this collegial forum the objectives and ambitions particular to the book, perhaps others will find useful for further inquiry the other cases and examples that Wilson has laid out.

Christopher Gevers takes the opposite approach to Wilson. Where Wilson discounts Affective Justice for what he calls its lack of engagement with pro-ICC voices, Gevers recognizes the importance of digging deeper to understand how and to what ends a revived Pan-Africanist fervor has led to particular aspirations for African justice institutions. As Gevers helpfully articulates and amplifies, a core argument of the book is that the affective modalities which shape the ICC and its supporters structurally mirror those of its Pan-Africanist critics. In highlighting the essence of the book’s contribution, which is to show how the contemporary international criminal justice assemblage works and is being reworked, Gevers offers two key routes for future scholarship.

The first suggestion is to connect contemporary African aspirations for justice to earlier colonial periods in which black leaders, in collaboration with various allies, struggled to instrumentalize the law in order to hold accountable Europeans who committed violence against Africans. As an example, Gevers discusses the barriers experienced by Africans in their attempts to include apartheid as an internationally prosecutable offence and shows that African pursuit of justice has historically been in favor of anti-impunity rather than against it. This historical perspective is welcome and important.

Gevers’ second suggestion is to consider the relevance of affective justice to other fields, and in particular to domains of narrative. He cites the narratives explored in novels in terms of their ability to establish the symbolic and affective regimes that give life to the aspirations that shaped macro frameworks such as international justice. I agree with both suggestions, which point to the few regrets I do have about constraints of time and space in this project. Affective Justice would certainly be enriched by more historical analysis; certain nuances and depths are undiscoverable in contemporary accounts of plunder in Africa. Recognizing the power of fictional renditions to allow us to imagine sentiments that are part of the affective life of the law, I regret not yet engaging with novels and other narrative genres in my writing. These are exciting possibilities for future exploration as I continue to more deeply understanding and theorize reattribution in international law.

Finally, Sara Kendall focuses on the implications of looking at justice processes through an affective lens. She deploys legal encapsulation as a diagnostic device to explore how juridical forms circumscribe complex problems, “enabling proponents of international criminal justice to offer solutions such as individual criminal liability for…mass atrocities that are embedded in broader conditions of possibility.” In this regard, she poses the central question of the book: does the theory of affective justice help us to understand why those who initially supported the court are now abandoning it? Following from this question, Kendall offers a new application of an affective justice lens to analyze the trend towards anti-globalist discourse in the United States. In her example, various US stakeholders invoke particular visions of vulnerability and grievance that she shows are tied to convictions of US exceptionalism. Kendall’s opening example relates discourses around contemporary US interests that disavow international criminal justice to a similar use of “counter-narrative of victimhood” deployed by the Kenyan government the wake of the 2007-08 post-election violence. Kendall shows, in each case, counter-narratives re-cast ICC as a threat to peace and security even if the political and historical backdrops differ (history of European colonialism and slavery in the case of Kenya; militarism, exceptionalism, and extractive capitalism in the US case). Taking a cue from the arguments in Affective Justice, Kendall’s illustration allows us to explore not simply why the legitimacy of the ICC is being challenged but also how this happens. It highlights the discursive strategies at play and shows us how passionate utterances, communicated within particular emotive regimes, are central tothe affective workings of international justice.

It is gratifying to consider how these eight scholars have grappled with and extended the contributions of my book, chief of which has been the argument that justice cannot be separated from the emotional domains that are attached to it. Justice formations operate within an assemblage of component parts that are shaped by particular emotional regimes and their embodied affective responses. The legitimacy of international law’s authority is not in its doctrinal materiality; rather, it lies in its affective domains. Affective justice – how justice feels and is manifest in the everyday – is central to its materialization through the law and beyond.

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