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The Justice of Visual Art

The Justice of Visual Art
Creative State-Building in Times of Political Transition


Part of Law in Context

  • Publication planned for: December 2019
  • availability: Not yet published - available from December 2019
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108494397

£ 85.00

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About the Authors
  • In the aftermath of mass conflict how is it possible to address violent and traumatic pasts, reconcile divided nations, and strengthen state institutions? This study explores the connections between transitional justice and visual art in order to answer that question. Garnsey argues that art can engage and shape ideas of justice. Art can be an inquiry into, and an alternative experience of, justice. Art embeds justice on different political levels - both local and global. Art becomes a radical form of political participation in times of transition. Arising out of extensive fieldwork at the Constitutional Court of South Africa and the South Africa Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which included 130 interviews with key decision makers, the book provides the first substantive theoretical framework for understanding transitional justice and visual art, and develops novel conceptions of visual jurisprudence and cultural diplomacy as forms of transitional justice.

    • Provides the first substantive and comprehensive theoretical framework for understanding transitional justice and visual art, supported by extensive empirical social science research
    • Introduces highly original empirical social science research across two case studies, including 130 interviews with key decision makers (such as, senior judges, government representatives, artists, lawyers, staff and visitors) and archival material never before analysed in depth elsewhere
    • Demonstrates that transdisciplinary research across transitional justice, International Relations, and art theory generates productive and insightful contributions for the study of human rights and social science more broadly
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In this pioneering interdisciplinary book, Eliza Garnsey offers a compelling account of the complex and productive relationship between visual art and transitional justice. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the South African Constitutional Court and at the Venice Biennale, she shows both how the South African state has attempted to mobilise art as an instrument of cultural diplomacy and how art often escapes efforts to harness it, instead opening up new dimensions of experience and novel sources of political and ethical insight.' Duncan Bell, University of Cambridge

    'Firmly rooted in interdisciplinary ground, The Justice of Visual Art offers an exciting and refreshing contribution to ongoing conversations about the role of art in difficult processes of dealing with the past. Garnsey's concept of 'visual jurisprudence' opens a new vista on the complex relationship between legal institutions and the cultural background against which they function. This is a must-read for all students of transitional justice and the politics of memory.' Mihaela Mihai, University of Edinburgh

    'Writing in the wake of debates on visual and aesthetic politics, Garnsey offers a meticulously researched and highly compelling account of how art shapes cultural diplomacy and transitional justice in South Africa.' Roland Bleiker, University of Queensland

    'After the guns have been put aside, the arduous and prolonged business of reconciliation and social reconstruction in post-conflict societies can't be left entirely to the courts. Garnsey develops a novel understanding of visual jurisprudence as she argues persuasively that the arts have an essential part to play, using two finely crafted case studies.' Charles Jones, University of Cambridge

    'This innovative study contributes to our understanding of the role of art in post-TRC South Africa. By considering deeply state-supported art as more than symbolic reparations and, rather, as visual jurisprudence and as creative state-building, Garnsey makes a strong case for art as foundational to the reconception of the justice system within the country and to the exhibition of contested narratives of the 'new' South Africa to the outside world.' Cynthia E. Milton, Université de Montréal

    'This book makes an important and timely intervention into a burgeoning debate about the relationship of art to transitional justice. Garnsey, rather than focusing on the instrumental potential of art to foster goals of transitional justice, draws our attention to the potential of art to help us make better sense of its core ideas and messy reality. Art allows for expression and contestation, experimentation and creativity; it is 'a radical form of political participation in times of transition'.' Rachel Kerr, King's College London

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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: December 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108494397
    • dimensions: 247 x 174 mm
    • contains: 40 b/w illus.
    • availability: Not yet published - available from December 2019
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Art and justice in times of transition
    Part I. Recognising Transitional Justice in the Nation State:
    3. From prison to court
    4. Shaping 'legal' space
    5. The art of recognition
    6. The visual jurisprudence of transition
    Part II. Representing Transitional Justice on the Global Stage:
    7. From banned to embraced
    8. Mapping political art-scapes
    9. The art of representation
    10. The cultural diplomacy of Imaginary Fact
    11. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Eliza Garnsey, University of Cambridge
    Eliza Garnsey is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in International Relations at the University of Cambridge and is Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge. She was previously awarded the 2017 Lisa Smirl Ph.D. Prize for best thesis in Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge.

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