Allo, AK (2021) The Courtroom as an Arena of Ideological and Political Confrontation: The Chicago Eight Conspiracy Trial. Law and Critique. ISSN 0957-8536

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<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Normative theories of law conceive the courtroom as a geometrically delineated, politically neutral, and linguistically transparent space designed for a fair and orderly administration of justice. The trial, the most legalistic of all legal acts, is widely regarded as a site of truth and justice elevated above and beyond the expediency of ideology and politics. These conceptions are further underpinned by certain normative understandings of sovereignty, the subject, and politics where sovereignty is conceived as self-instituting and self-limiting; the subject is understood as an autonomous and rational being capable of self-consciousness and self-representation; and politics is posited as the exercise of reason in the public sphere. In this article, I argue that such a normative conceptualization of the criminal trial and the courtroom not only ignores structures of power and privilege that produce inequalities but also forecloses possibilities for transformative judicial praxis. Drawing on the 1969–1970 trial of eight radical activists accused of conspiring to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the article argues for a performative re-conceptualization of sovereignty, the subject, and the law as indeterminate, unpredictable, and open-ended discursive formations. The article demonstrates how the accused, working with and against legal doctrines, norms, and discourses, rethought normative conceptions of sovereignty, law, and subjectivity as contingent power-knowledge constellations that are open, unpredictable, and un-closable.</jats:p>

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
K Law > KD England and Wales
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Law
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2021 14:32
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2021 14:32

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