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Should Videos of Trees have Standing? An Inquiry into the Legal Rites of Unnatural Objects at the ICTY

Schuppli, Susan. 2018. Should Videos of Trees have Standing? An Inquiry into the Legal Rites of Unnatural Objects at the ICTY. In: Danielle Celermajer and Richard Sherwin, eds. A Cultural History of Law in the Modern Age. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781474212854 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Arguments, or the rhetorical construction of truth about historical events, have always lain at the heart of legal trials. In this sense, it is not bare facts in themselves but how they can be assembled into a coherent and convincing narrative that provides the foundation for law’s findings on the truth. However, through the course of the twentieth century, the materials upon which arguments could be built have radically altered. This chapter sets out to explore mediated evidence, the role of scientific expertise, and the ways in which they combine to create new legal assemblages. More specifically, it considers how visual media, especially videos and photographs, are increasingly engaged in the construction of the arguments that legal practitioners deploy and that courts are called upon to adjudicate. As visual images proliferate in courts, visual rhetoric and visual argumentation unfold alongside the traditional rhetoric of words alone (Sherwin 2007). This broadening of the rhetorical spectrum within legal practice calls for new forms of expertise and eloquence based on an expanded capacity to decode, in order to meaningfully examine, visual evidence and visual advocacy.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


18 October 2018Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Mar 2016 16:15

Last Modified:

21 Mar 2019 17:00


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