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Conference - Performative Perspectives

On 26 and 27 May 2011, the theme group Terrorists on Trial will hold a conference called Performative Perspectives at NIAS.

You are cordially invited to participate in the discussion of a new dimension in terrorism research. At this two day conference the results of theTheme Group ‘Terrorists on Trial. The Court Room as a Stage in the Struggle for Publicity, Public Support and Legitimacy’ are presented. This group focuses on trials of what are termed terrorists. The determination whether an act of protest, resistance, intimidation or violence amounts to ‘terrorism’ is, they argue, formally made in court. The decisions in terrorist trials therefore reverberate in society; they have an impact on terrorists and their sympathisers and can shape or break public support for government measures against terrorism. By analysing the behaviour of terrorists in such trials and the role of all other parties involved this conference will take a fresh look at the judicial, political and social impacts of a series of such trials held both before and after 11 September 2001.

The proposition that lies at the heart of this is that terrorist trials are not mere judicial procedures, but have what can be called a ‘performative power’. They have the potential to mobilise a society, or certain groups within that society or beyond, by conveying messages to a wider public about a desirable social order and what should be regarded as ‘just’. This power can be wielded by the terrorists but also by public prosecutors, lawyers, judges and politicians. They can all ‘play politics’ with what is going on in the courtroom and around the trial, stretching or even changing the definition of justice, legality and legitimacy; they have the power to ‘perform’, that is to convince and mobilise various audiences. The audience principally consists of the public in the courtroom, but through the press it includes the entire population. By presenting a number of case-studies this conference attempts to unravel the role of all those involved, as actors as well as audience, by analysing the constructed messages and how they are received.

Below you will find the programme and a registration form. Please send the registration form to Mike Spaans.

Programme 26-27 May

Registration form