The imagination of new worlds represented in science fiction cinema is a fertile ground for reflecting on the nature of international law. Assumptions of international law can be further tested by stretching their conditions of operation. International law’s argumentative structure makes it quite flexible, maybe more flexible than first appears. Concepts such as State, territory or even humanity seemingly central to the nature of international law can be fundamentally altered or even removed; a recognizable form of international law continues to operate. Still, fidelity to some features of the liberal ethos is needed for international law to continue being relevant. What sci-fi cinema proves is that the ideology of international law is embedded not in States, not even in humanity, but in the equality of rights of groups displaying enough anthropomorphic features. The disappearance of these features marks the end of the explanatory power of the international law analogy. In-between these extremes, science-fiction cinema can further provide relatable materials to make us think radically about international law.
Do films take rights seriously? This chapter argues that answering this question requires first examining underlying assumptions about what films do and the role of popular culture in the construction of socio-legal narratives. It moves on to argue that, rather than advocating the setting aside of humanitarian principles in pursuit of some vitally important ends, many films are best understood as depicting the moral dilemmas raised by the implementation of rights in extreme conditions and reflect some of the profound shifts that have recently occurred in the law and ethics of warfare. The chapter concludes with some thoughts on the danger of 'sanitizing' warfare and the role of films in unsettling the liberal intuition that war can be fought humanely.
This chapter aims at assessing the place of the UN Charter in ‘action movies’, i.e. movies representing the use of armed force in international relations. After spending several hundreds of hours in watching films and series of this kind, a clear conclusion can be drawn: the UN Charter rules are, in most cases, not cited or even evoked as such. The legal debate often appears unnecessary, inappropriate or absurd. To the viewer, it is rather the emergency of the situation and the necessity of action that prevails. In the rare cases where a legal rule is at stake, it is either interpreted broadly to justify military action, or rejected as a formalistic and unrealistic constraint. All in all, action movies generally represent the UN Charter rule on the use of force as inefficient, illegitimate or even ludicrous. Those characteristics can sometimes be explained by certain links between Hollywood and the Pentagon. But, in most cases, the image of a UN Charter with limited scope and effects appears as a cultural representation shared by many directors and filmmakers without any political interference.
This chapter aims to explore how film can bolster or undermine claims about the legality of the use of force. Building on the chapters in this volume by Corten and Dubuisson, it draws out three key themes, namely, genre, interpretation and interdisciplinarity. Next it offers some suggestions for further research on international law and film: first, a broader vision of world cinema; second, analysis of ideology in terms of a military-cinematicographic complex; and using Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) and feminist perspectives to interpret film in ways that engage with broader debates in international law. Finally, it considers legal and visual arguments about the legality of the US military intervention in Afghanistan since 2001 with reference to Siddiq Barmak’s 2003 film Osama.
In the Catholic areas of Europe, the human remains (both their bones and the
fabrics they touched) of persons considered to have been exceptional are usually
stored for transformation into relics. The production and the reproduction of
the object-relic takes place within monasteries and is carried out firstly on
the material level. In this article I intend to present in detail, from an
anthropological standpoint, the practices used to process such remains, the role
of the social actors involved and the political-ecclesiastical dynamics
connected with them. Owing to obvious difficulties in accessing enclosed
communities, such practices are usually overlooked in historiographical and
ethno-anthropological analyses, while they should instead be considered the most
important moment in the lengthy process intended to give form and meaning to
remains, with a view to their exhibition and use in ritual.
Florence Carré, Aminte Thomann, and Yves-Marie Adrian
In Normandy, near Rouen, in Tournedos-sur-Seine and Val-de-Reuil, two adult
skeletons thrown into wells during the Middle Ages have been studied. The wells
are located at two separate sites just 3 km apart. Both sites consist of
clustered settlements inhabited from the seventh to the tenth century and
arranged around a cemetery. The backfill of the well shafts contains animal
remains, but also partially or completely articulated human bodies. In
Val-de-Reuil, the incomplete skeleton of a man, probably representing a
secondary deposition, had traces of a violent blow on the skull, certainly with
a blunt weapon. In Tournedos-sur-Seine, a woman thrown in headfirst had several
impact points and bone fractures on the skull that could have been caused by
perimortem mistreatment or a violent death. After a detailed description of the
two finds and a contextualisation in the light of similar published cases, we
will discuss the possible scenarios for the death and deposition of the
individuals as well as their place in their communities.
Adrien Douchet, Taline Garibian, and Benoît Pouget
The aim of this article is to shed light on the conditions under which the
funerary management of human remains was carried out by the French authorities
during the early years of the First World War. It seeks to understand how the
urgent need to clear the battlefield as quickly as possible came into conflict
with the aspiration to give all deceased an individualised, or at the very least
dignified, burial. Old military funerary practices were overturned and
reconfigured to incorporate an ideal that sought the individual identification
of citizen soldiers. The years 1914–15 were thus profoundly marked by a
clash between the pragmatism of public health authorities obsessed with hygiene,
the infancy of emerging forensic science, the aching desire of the nation to see
its children buried individually and various political and military imperatives
related to the conduct of the war.
The case of the management of the dead related to COVID-19
This article studies one of the humanitarian challenges caused by the COVID-19
crisis: the dignified handling of the mortal remains of individuals that have
died from COVID-19 in Muslim contexts. It illustrates the discussion with
examples from Sunni Muslim-majority states when relevant, such as Egypt, the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan, and examples from
English-speaking non-Muslim majority states such as the United Kingdom, the
United States of America, Canada and Australia as well as Sri Lanka. The article
finds that the case of the management of dead bodies of people who have died
from COVID-19 has shown that the creativity and flexibility enshrined in the
Islamic law-making logic and methodology, on the one hand, and the cooperation
between Muslim jurists and specialised medical and forensic experts, on the
other, have contributed to saving people’s lives and mitigating the
effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Muslim contexts.