Justice in Memoriam

Claire Valier, University of London

'Everyone I know is distraught by your news': this message, posted to an internet book of condolence, signals the need to rethink questions of justice in the light of teletechnologies, those technologies of the afar that are disruptive of earlier ontologies. The message is emblematic of the public mourning for highly publicised murders, the impromptu shrines, the televised funerals and, later, the memorial laws, laws named in memory of the deceased. Phenomena like these attest to a persuasive model of being-with-othersm, within which criminal injury is 'experienced,' through which it is deeply and personally felt, and thought of as a shockingly familiar part of everyday life, as here with us here and now, and here to stay. This new vernacular particularly arises as a mediated experience of 'tragic murders', encountered in and through flows of image and information. In the publicness of the public grief displayed, a particular master-script is affirmed as the imagination and memory of crime. At the same time, the 'impact' of those crimes deemed to be tragedies is imaginately experienced as traumatic. In this way, the space of public mourning is constituted in the intimacy of bereavement. Generic dramas of loss, grief, and pain are established as familiar, and ground a memorial justice of criminal injury, its co-mmemoration, and its vindication.

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Updated 05/20/2006