Towards a Feminist Aesthetic of Justice: Sarah Kane's Blasted As Theorisation of the Representation of Sexual Violence in International Law

Socio-Legal Research Centre, Griffith Law School, Griffith University
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Feminist Law Journal, 2012, 36 pp. 107 - 124
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Aesthetic considerations are bound up with thematic questions of justice, and an interdisciplinary engagement between law and culture offers methodologies through which to interrogate and reframe legal understandings of harm. While there is no particular form that can, a priori, be designated feminist, we can talk meaningfully about practices of representation, and methodologies, as being feminist or otherwise. This essay seeks to re-animate questions concerning the relationship between feminisms and representation, asking what it might mean to talk about a legal, feminist aesthetic: what are the terms of evaluation that seem relevant in judging representation as feminist or otherwise? What are the stakes of such an enquiry? These methodological questions will be considered with respect to a specific archive - first, a legal archive comprising recent feminist engagements with international criminal and human rights law dealing with sexual violence in conflict zones; and second, a cultural text, Sarah Kane's play Blasted (1995). This essay engages with and extends feminist commentary regarding the legal interventions, explicating the benefits of a law and culture approach to ongoing questions in feminist theories and practice. It provides an example of the ways in which a cultural text can illuminate problematic practices of representation that have developed in the law and critical commentary, and which seem natural or even unmoveable. The practice of re-seeing made available through engagement with this cultural text is, it is argued, a practice of justice.
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