“Lessons in Humanity”: International Law’s Narrative of Progress and the Return of Revenge in the Post 9/11 Era

Colloquium with Dr. Renana Keydar
Activity Date: 
Monday, Apr 9, 2018

The international justice system is dominated by a narrative of progress whose roots can be traced to the Nuremberg tribunal in 1945. This narrative is premised on the rejection of revenge as a legitimate response to mass atrocity.
Post 9/11 Global War on Terror brings back the question of revenge as a political practice, leading to a growing divide between the narrative of the law and the contemporary zeitgeist, which undermines international justice's relevance to today’s reality.
The talk examines the schism between the progress narrative of the law and counter-narratives of revenge and retribution in the post 9/11 era. It argues that while the justice system treats revenge as a resolved matter, political practices and cultural outputs suggest that the question is far from settled. The talk offers cultural narratives as a key to bridging this gap between the law and the present state of affairs, by providing alternative imaginations of post-atrocity justice.