Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy

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Issue 2, 2023 Expand all abstracts

Access_open Law and Slavery: An Introduction

Authors Luigi Corrias
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Luigi Corrias
Luigi Corrias is Associate Professor at the Department of Legal Theory and Legal History at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Access_open Plantation Logics, Citizenship Violence and the Necessity of Slowing Down

Reflections Inspired by Anton de Kom

Keywords Citizenship Violence, anti-colonial critique, Anton de Kom, neo-liberalism
Authors Guno Jones
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    Based on the work of anti-colonial thinker Anton de Kom, this article reveals the formative violence of modern citizenship in the Dutch colonial context of Suriname and its inheritances in Europe. The article firstly discusses how Anton de Kom’s work, based on the experiences of slavery and indenture, deconstructs universalist-inclusive narratives about the law and citizenship. From the lens of what I term Citizenship Violence, the racialised socio-legal binary embedded in modernity that De Kom’s seminal work We Slaves of Suriname points to will be analysed. Secondly, the normalisation of capitalism in post-independent Suriname will be discussed. Thirdly, attention is drawn to how De Kom’s work can be made relevant for contesting the coloniality of Europe’s citizenship and migration regime. Lastly, a pressing contemporary afterlife of racial slavery and capitalism in terms of the omnipresent self-exhausting neo-liberal ethics will be discussed. Pleading for an ethics of ‘slowing down’, I ask how Anton de Kom’s anti-colonial and anti-capitalist critique can be translated into a decolonial critique of the neo-liberal subject and the logics of capitalist modernity in which it is embedded.

Guno Jones
Guno Jones is Professor at the Anton de Kom Chair in the History of Colonialism and Slavery and Their Contemporary Social, Cultural, and Legal Impact at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Access_open Exhaustion in the Plantationocene

Comments on Guno Jones ‘Plantation logics, Citizenship Violence and the Necessity of Slowing down’

Keywords Citizenship Violence, Anton de Kom, Exhaustion, Plantationocene, plantation
Authors Yolande Jansen
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    This contribution comments on Guno Jones’ notion of Citizenship Violence developed through his reading of We Slaves of Suriname by Anton de Kom. It addresses Jones’ discussion of exhaustion as a structural legacy of the plantation, proposing that exhaustion is also integral to the ‘Plantationocene’. This term, introduced by Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing, emphasizes how the plantation has been a laboratory for the subjection of organic life to radical simplification and commodification in modernity. Then, the discussion extends to the critique of the Plantationocene by Malcom Ferdinand and Janae Davis et al., highlighting the racial politics of plantations and their connection to slavery. Furthermore, it examines the relationship between exhaustion, property, and whiteness. Additionally, this contribution pays attention to the interplay between Citizenship Violence and the politics of religion and secularity within the Dutch context, drawing parallels with Mohammed Amer Meziane’s analysis of the French context.

Yolande Jansen
Yolande Jansen is Endowed Professor of Humanism in relation to religion and secularity at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam.

Access_open How Tort Can Address Historical Injustice

Exploring the Momentum for the Slavery Justice Movement in Dutch Civil Courts

Keywords Historical injustice, transitional justice, transformative justice, tort law, colonial slavery
Authors Niké Wentholt and Nicole L. Immler
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    Recent years have seen an increase in civil litigation of cases of systemic and historical injustice in the Netherlands. Cases regarding war crimes, genocide and other human rights violations in the past and present have reached the Dutch civil courts through tort law. Meanwhile, scholarly disciplines have difficulty understanding the match between tort law and historical injustice cases, distracted by tort’s technicalities and alleged formality. This article provides an interdisciplinary analysis aiming to theoretically clarify the urgency and aspiration put on tort by the slavery justice movement: what potential does tort hold for addressing historical injustice, such as slavery? The article identifies ‘talking points’ between two compatible theories from the sociological and legal disciplines, transformative justice and civil recourse theory, illustrated with cases of systemic and historical injustice. It argues that despite difficulties, tort litigation can be a viable platform to address historical injustices such as colonial slavery. This impact is not dependent on a successful legal outcome: the process can foster agency through process, and participation through inclusion, as core characteristics of remedying historical injustice.

Niké Wentholt
Niké Wentholt is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Humanistic Studies.

Nicole L. Immler
Nicole L. Immler is Professor Historical Memory and Transformative Justice at the University of Humanistic Studies.

Access_open The Most Salient Legal Hurdle

Countering the Refusal to Legally Recognise Colonial Slavery as a Crime against Humanity

Keywords Haitian Revolution, intertemporality, crimes against humanity, slavery, international law
Authors Wouter Veraart
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    In this article, a distinction is made between two approaches to the legal evaluation of colonial slavery. In the first one, the recognition of colonial slavery as a crime against humanity is limited to the ‘here and now’, muted and even deprived of its legal meaning. In the second approach, colonial slavery is seen as already violating important legal principles that were valid at the time. In this way, it opens the possibility to recognise colonial slavery as a legal crime. Accordingly, it is argued that only the second approach honours the personhood of the enslaved person, creates room for reparation and addresses a persistent contradiction within law itself.

Wouter Veraart
Wouter Veraart is Professor of Legal Philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Access_open The Figure of the Slave as an Ethical Paradigm in the Work of Agamben

Keywords Agamben, slave, master, (de)colonialism, ethics
Authors Ype De Boer
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    There is an extensive history of reflections on the nature of slavery and the dehumanising politics surrounding it. Rarely, however, is the figure of the slave proposed as a paradigm for the good life. Yet this is precisely how it occurs in the later work of controversial Italian thinker Giorgio Agamben. This counter-intuitive approach has invited various types of criticism. This article argues that, although limited and historically deficient in its treatment of slavery, Agamben’s revaluation is nonetheless allied with the decolonial call for a new consciousness liberated of ‘colonial logics’ and a new relation to the environment. The radical intuition guiding Agamben is that, as long as we recognise in the slave only the figure of the abject and the dehumanised, we unwittingly value human life from the viewpoint of the master, which is one of the fundamental ‘errors’ that keeps systematic exclusion and institutional violence in place.

Ype De Boer
Ype de Boer is a researcher and teacher at the department of Metaphysics and Philosophical Anthropology at Radboud University.
Book Review

Access_open Recht als zwaard en schild: Fraenkels Dual State en de rechtspraktijk in het Derde Rijk

Keywords rechtsstaat, Fraenkel, Meierhenrich, The Dual State, legaliteit, Nazi law.
Authors Jacob van de Beeten
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    De laatste jaren kan het werk van Ernst Fraenkel op hernieuwde belangstelling rekenen. Dit review essay bespreekt zijn magnus opum The Dual State waarin Fraenkel de rechtspraktijk in nazi-­Duitsland analyseerde, evenals het boek The Remnants of the Rechtsstaat: An Etnography of Nazi Law over Fraenkels leven en werk, geschreven door Jens Meierheinrich. In The Dual State laat Fraenkel zien hoe de rechtspraktijk in nazi-­Duitsland een tweeledige vorm aanneemt, waarin het recht enerzijds zijn geldigheid behoudt, maar anderzijds onderworpen is aan de politieke wil van de machtshebbers. Op deze manier nuanceert Fraenkel op belangrijke wijze het gangbare begrip van de rol van het recht en het rechtspositi­visme in het Derde Rijk. Ook biedt zijn werk relevante aanknopingspun­ten voor de hedendaagse studie van illiberale en autoritaire regimes.

Jacob van de Beeten
Jacob van de Beeten is a Phd candidate at the Department of Law of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Citation format

Would you like to cite a publication in the Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy? You could do this in the following way:

Christoph Kletzer, ‘Absolute Positivism’, NJLP 2013/2 p. 87-99