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Law, Memory, (In)Justice

Semester and Year FA 2018
Course Number ELEC-GG2735
Section 001
Instructor Vasuki Nesiah
Days M
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Units 4
Level G


Formerly titled "War, Law, and Memory." Open to advanced undergraduates with permission of the instructor (


From Nuremberg to the South African Truth Commission, there have been many efforts to grapple with the demands of law and the persistence of memory in the aftermath of atrocity and in the name of justice. In some cases this work has been undertaken by "victim"/survivor groups, in others by the communities that bore witness to the atrocity, in yet others by the state or even by international institutions acting in the name of "humanity." This class will study the ways in which the terrain of law, legality and illegality get mobilized to advance some memories and evade others. We will look at the work of courts as well as institutions such as truth commissions, collective initiatives such as memorials, individualized interventions such as witness testimonials, literary projects and ongoing claims for reparations and redress by social movements. The class will read scholars who seek to analyze how different 'memory projects' negotiate, challenge or legitimize different actors and alternative imaginings of 'justice.' The course is open to graduate students; advanced undergraduates are permitted with the permission of the instructor. There is a lot of reading for the course —virtually a book a week for most weeks—so those interested should be motivated to dig deep in this area over the course of the semester. Readings include Sophocles, Hannah Arendt, Judith Butler, Mark Osiel, Cathy Caruth, Saidya Hartman, Kamari Clark, Gerry Simpson, Ruti Teitel, Walter Benjamin, Rosalind Shaw and others.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Graduate Electives (ELEC-GG)