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Individual violence and the law

Studies in Law, Politics and Society

ISBN: 978-0-76231-323-5, eISBN: 978-1-84950-422-5

ISSN: 1059-4337

Publication date: 26 September 2006


The political landscape that has been unfolding since the attacks on the World Trade Centre in September 2001 has created an urgent imperative for a reappraisal of the place of individual force within philosophies of violence, particularly those that are directed to law. An extensive critique of the relation between law and violence has emerged around the works of philosophers, such as Walter Benjamin, Franz Fanon, Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben (1998, In: D.H. Roazen (Trans.), Homo sacer: Sovereign power and bare life. California: Stanford University Press), but it is questionable whether any of these provide us with the conceptual tools with which to address what is being presented (correctly or otherwise) as a particular problematic of the 21st century. Indeed, I would argue that a certain intellectual malaise surrounds discussion around individual force and that this state of affairs is in large measure due to the way in which critical theory and philosophy has addressed questions concerning the relation between individual violence and the juridical order. Without exception such accounts declare that individual violence undermines the authority of law itself. The following seeks to interrogate this contention and in doing so to begin to construct a more nuanced way of conceiving how the law preserves its authority.


Tuitt, P. (2006), "Individual violence and the law", Sarat, A. (Ed.) Studies in Law, Politics and Society (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 39), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 3-14.



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