The Soundscape of Justice
Griffith Law Review 20(4) (2011), 962-993.
32 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2012
Date Written: December 1, 2011
Sound is a fact of life. But it is not a fact that contemporary legal thought has made any particular efforts to acknowledge, let alone to interrogate in any depth. As a community of jurists, we have become deaf to law and to the problem of the acoustic. We must begin to take responsibility for a dimension of legal experience that is no less real or significant simply because we barely attend to it. We need to begin to imagine a specifically acoustic jurisprudence. This article is a first step in that direction. By means of a close study of the ʻsoundscape of justiceʼ at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and specifically in relation to the case of Simon Bikindi, who was accused by the Tribunal of inciting genocide with his songs, it aims to convince readers that the question of sound is worth attending to, that it bears an important relation to questions of justice and that it is very much capable of influencing institutional outcomes. Sound, after all, is a condition of the administration of justice, an inalienable part of our legal worlds.
Keywords: jurisprudence, sound studies, soundscape, ICTR, international law, ethnography, critical legal theory
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