Randle C. DeFalco

Jan 16, 2023

Invisible Atrocities

The Aesthetic Biases of International Criminal Justice

Cambridge University Press 2022

International criminal justice is, at its core, an anti-atrocity project. Yet just what an 'atrocity' is remains undefined and undertheorized. Randle C. DeFalco's book Invisible Atrocities: The Aesthetic Biases of International Criminal Justice (Cambridge UP, 2022) examines how associations between atrocity commission and the production of horrific spectacles shape the processes through which international crimes are identified and conceptualized, leading to the foregrounding of certain forms of mass violence and the backgrounding or complete invisibilization of others. In doing so, it identifies various, seemingly banal ways through which international crimes may be committed and demonstrates how the criminality of such forms of violence and abuse tends to be obfuscated. 

DeFalco suggests that the failure to address these 'invisible atrocities' represents a major flaw in the current international criminal justice system, one that produces a host of problematic repercussions and undermines the legal legitimacy of international criminal law itself.

Jeff Bachman is Senior Lecturer in Human Rights at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, DC.

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