CfP The Visualities and Aesthetics of Prosecuting Aged Defendants


Special Issue

Editors: Professor Mark Drumbl and Professor Caroline Fournet

Call for papers

The prosecution – whether domestic or international – of international crimes and atrocities may implicate extremely aged defendants. Much has been written about the legalisms that inhere (or not) in trying these barely alive individuals. Very little however has been written about the aesthetics the barely alive encrust into the architecture of courtrooms, the optics these defendants suffuse into the trial process, and the expressive value of punishing them. This is what we seek to do in this project.

Prior to this symposium, and as a first step, we published a blogtext on the aesthetics of the barely alive on trial at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. We highlight that such prosecution interstitially finds itself straying between two worlds –  the world of the living and that of the dead – within the straddling space of the fading. How to imagine this space? What words to use to describe it? Should the words of the living be used – the vocabularies of law, of process, of evidence? Should the nether words of the necropolis be invoked – the words of memorialization, of preservation, of the archive, of respect for the dead, of the deceased body? Or both?

To address these questions – which are by no means exhaustive – we welcome contributions for a special issue of the International Criminal Law Review devoted to the visualities and aesthetics of putting very aged defendants on trial for atrocity. While we encourage legal submissions we also hope to receive contributions from authors with a variety of backgrounds (e.g. anthropology, sociology, criminology, museology, forensics) working in the fields of international criminal justice and transitional justice in a diverse array of jurisdictions. The proposals may also relate to domestic prosecutions of atrocities. Proposals addressing broader questions of time, circularity, life cycles, and chronology also are welcome. For instance, criminal proceedings are set to begin shortly in Youth Court in Hamburg against 93 year-old Bruno Dey for Holocaust-era crimes allegedly committed when he was a 17 year-old SS member.

The International Criminal Law Review is a leading peer-review journal. One of the two conveners of this call for papers, Caroline Fournet, serves as its editor-in-chief.

Contributions should not be shorter than 8,000 words and must not exceed 10,000 words (including footnotes). They must not have been published or submitted previously or simultaneously elsewhere.

Authors should send a maximum 300-word abstract to the editors by 1 February 2020 and will be informed of the editors’ decision by 15 February 2020.  As part of the publication process, we anticipate holding a funded workshop for successfully selected papers in April or May 2020 likely in the Netherlands. Participants are to prepare a working draft in immediate advance of the workshop. It is anticipated that the deadline for the submission of the full final draft will be Fall 2020, buoyed by input at the workshop, for a firm publication in 2021.

Please direct any and all correspondence, questions, and expressions of interest to the co-editors at and

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