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    A new Nomos offshore and bodies as their own signs

    Jones, S. and Motha, Stewart (2015) A new Nomos offshore and bodies as their own signs. Law and Literature 27 (2), pp. 253-278. ISSN 1535-685X.

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    This paper begins with the paradoxes that accrue around the appearance of Robinson Crusoe and his “Man Friday” within recent judgments relating to the Chagos Archipelago. These references are understood as revealing the complex of anxieties and limits that are the final legacy of these rulings. In particular, we trace the ways in which – through Daniel Defoe's iconic characters – these judgments enact a troubling retreat from review of executive action, and a fuller withdrawal of sensibility from situations of “otherness” that both bear and cannot bear analogy to that of Friday. The paper then more briefly considers a similar complex of anxieties and limits, retreats and withdrawals enacted by recent judgments relating to Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. This allows us to suggest that between these two series of highest court rulings, the Anglophone common law is currently constructing the Indian Ocean as an offshore: a site excised from judicial review, and a site in which certain figures – peoples, individuals – are not considerable in both senses of the word. But in fathoming this, we turn to Derrida's insights on sovereignty to argue that, far from being new, this construction of a common law of the Indian Ocean tells us about the affront of an archaic sovereignty that always already determines and is determined by law. Across the arguments of this paper, these perceptions of judgment, geography and sovereignty are enabled by literature, and specifically by reading the return of Crusoe and Friday in a recent novel form (by J. M. Coetzee) that also broaches the limits of judgment and recognition, but through a kind of vigilant silence – an abstinence – that craves an alternative commonality: and in this very longing, resists the silencing complicities of the UK and Australian judgments with the disembodiment of a littoral nomos, offshore.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Published by the Regents of the University of California/Sponsoring Society or Association. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by [the Regents of the University of California/on behalf of the Sponsoring Society] for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Law School
    Depositing User: Stewart Motha
    Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2016 13:30
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:22


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