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Suresh, Mayur (2019) 'The social life of technicalities: 'Terrorist' lives in Delhi's courts.' Contributions to Indian Sociology, 53 (1). pp. 72-96.

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How do we imagine the place of courtrooms in relation to society? There have been two dominant ways that ethnographers have viewed trials. The first treats trials as ways of understanding social structures and political power. In relation to terrorism trials, the courtroom becomes the arena in which nationalist politics can be re-enacted. There is the space of a pre-existing society—with all its hierarchies and conflicts—and the court case is then merely affixed to the social. The second way, which has a minor role in scholarship on India, has imagined courtrooms as theatrical spaces in which society is discursively constructed. In this article, I argue that an ethnography of courtrooms can be a way of accessing the space of courtroom on its own terms. I argue that the technologies of law set in place their own relations and forms of sociality and that the courtroom is a world in and of itself. Based on an ethnography of terrorism trials in Delhi, I show how the terrorism trial is not only the arena in which bigger contestations over nationalism and religious identity may play out; it is also the space in which new forms of life specific to the courtroom emerge.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: courtrooms, law, terrorism, procedures, technicalities
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Law
ISSN: 00699667
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2018 10:56

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