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Spectacles of Illegality: Mapping Ethiopia’s Show Trials

Spectacles of Illegality: Mapping Ethiopia’s Show Trials Thumbnail


General jurisprudence conceives the courtroom as a space of adjudication and justice far removed from the gravitational field of politics. Both in its normative inscription and function, the court is conceived as a site of truth and justice elevated above and beyond the expediency of power and politics. However, despite the predominance of this normative meaning, courts have been used to advance persecutive forms of politics that had nothing to do with the determination of guilt and innocence or the pursuit of justice. In this article, we will explore the role of the Ethiopian judiciary in legitimizing and rationalizing the politics of repression and elimination under the guise of law and legality. Drawing on Otto Kirchheimer’s seminal work on the political trial, we will examine Ethiopia’s strategic deployment of the judicial space and the devices of justice to produce narratives and generate ‘truths’ in the image of the ruling party.

Acceptance Date Aug 3, 2015
Publication Date Nov 2, 2015
Journal African Identities
Print ISSN 1472-5843
Publisher Routledge
Pages 279 - 296
Publisher URL


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