Cosmopolitan Subjects: An Anthropological Critique of Cosmopolitan Criminal Law and Political Modernity

Ronald C. Jennings

Cosmopolitan Subjects: An Anthropological Critique of Cosmopolitan Criminal Law and Political Modernity
Jennings, Ronald C.
Thesis Advisor(s):
Dirks, Nicholas B.
Permanent URL:
Ph.D., Columbia University.
This dissertation addresses the question of how we should understand the cosmopolitan power to punish the criminal embodied in the new global criminal courts, and whether cosmopolitan law can serve as the basis for what an earlier generation of anthropologists would have called a culturally-neutral global order? The present project, based on ethnographic fieldwork at the Yugoslavia Tribunal in The Hague, uses the case of Dusko Tadic, the first subject of a properly cosmopolitan law, as a lens to raise the questions of how we should understand the new cosmopolitan subjectivities being produced by the immanent institutionalization of a global criminal law and whether our historically-specific modern conceptualization of law is compatible with the maintenance of meaningful local political diversity and the rights of communities to live in a manner in keeping with their own history and traditions. It argues that, to get at the full implications of this process, we will need to take up the now largely neglected concepts of tradition and authority as a way to make sense of the legacies various pre-modern forms of authority continue to exercise in what is called modern law. The alternative genealogies here elaborated suggest that scholars would do best to try to understand law through the traditions of legal thought, disputation, and practice that preceded legal modernity, especially the classical republican and Roman law traditions in which virtually every aspect of modern legality (except the state and sovereignty) has a basis. It is argued that, with the first trial at the International Criminal Court, these historically-specific and local forms of authority are now the basis for the global legal system--pre-modern forms of authority which remain vital, even ascendant, in the age of cosmopolitan criminal law.
Cultural anthropology
Political science
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