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The Punitive Turn and the Justice Cascade: Mutual Benefits of Human Rights and Punishment and Society Literatures

Thu, Nov 16, 12:30 to 1:50pm, Marriott, Room 405, 4th Floor


Growth in penal responses to grave human rights violations, and resistances, are depicted, including a so-called Justice Cascade and the establishment of the International Criminal Court. This paper examines what we can learn when we apply to the expansion of international human rights law a variety of approaches used to explain the recent growth of domestic penal regimes: group conflict, penal entrepreneurs, shifting cultures, and institutional contexts. Juxtaposing a set of punishment and society approaches to literature on the expansion of punitive responses to human rights violations sheds explanatory light on the latter trend. Simultaneously, punishment and society scholarship gains from insights the human rights literature has to offer. A particular focus is on the mission of human rights trials to contribute to the writing of history and the shaping of collective memories of evil. Following illustrations of such cultural effects of prominent human rights trials, the question is explored to what degree common trials shape collective representations of social reality, risks, racial groups and class relations.


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