Agata Fijalkowski, "Law, Visual Culture, and the Show Trial" (Routledge, 2023)


Addressing the relationship between law and the visual, this book examines the importance of photography in Central, East, and Southeast European show trials.

The dispensation of justice during communist rule in Albania, East Germany, and Poland was reliant on legal propaganda, making the visual a fundamental part of the legitimacy of the law. Analysing photographs of trials, Agata Fijalkowski's Law, Visual Culture, and the Show Trial (Routledge, 2023) examines how this message was conveyed to audiences watching and participating in the spectacle of show trials. The book traces how this use of the visual was exported from the Soviet Union and imposed upon its satellite states in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. It shows how the legal actors and political authorities embraced new photographic technologies to advance their legal propaganda and legal photography. Drawing on contemporary theoretical work in the area, the book then challenges straightforward accounts of the relationship between law and the visual, critically engaging entrenched legal historical narratives, in relation to three different protagonists, to offer the possibility of reclaiming and rewriting past accounts. As its analysis demonstrates, the power of images can also be subversive; and, as such, the cases it addresses contribute to the discourse on visual epistemology and open onto contemporary questions about law and its inherent performativity.

Alex Batesmith is a Lecturer in Legal Profession in the School of Law at the University of Leeds, and a former barrister and UN war crimes prosecutor, with teaching and research interests in international criminal law, cause lawyering and the legal profession, and law and emotion. Twitter: @batesmith. LinkedIn

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Alex Batesmith

Alex Batesmith is a Lecturer in Legal Profession at the School of Law, University of Leeds, UK. His research focuses on lawyers, their professional self-identity and their motivations, and how these shape the institutions and the discipline in which they work. He has a particular interest in, and practitioner experience of, international criminal law and transitional justice. Twitter: @batesmith

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