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    ‘The murderer state will be held to account’: the myth of the state and its violence

    Yildiz, Ceylan Begüm (2021) ‘The murderer state will be held to account’: the myth of the state and its violence. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    The legal aftermath of police violence often fails to respond to public demands of accountability. What we often witness is a two-pronged response and conclusion in the legal process; police violence is either understood as an exceptional event–i.e., the wrongdoings of a few bad cops–or such violence is recognised as being exerted within the legitimate parameters of police powers. In either case, the legal processes of accountability dismiss the state’s responsibility over police violence and thus, the subjects who seek accountability find themselves in a long and exhausting legal battle which dominates their life and redefines their subjectivity. Police violence and its legal unaccountability are understood as failings of modern political and legal systems, despite their global and common reoccurrence. By drawing on critical literature, this thesis aims to rethink the connections between the state, violence, and law. By focusing on the role of myths, assumptions, and ghosts that surround the performance of state violence, and its legal address, this thesis proposes a fresh perspective for studying state violence and legal unaccountability while inquiring: How do the meanings and assumptions concerning state violence impact the political demands and legal processes of accountability? To pursue this question, the thesis traces the aftermath of the police killing of a fourteen-year-old boy, Berkin Elvan, during the nationwide Gezi protests of the summer 2013 in Turkey. Elvan’s police killing discloses that state violence is performed on and through subject-bodies. In the case of police violence, the state manifests through the body of the police officer who performs violence on behalf of the state. The thesis will argue the manifestation of the state renders the police officer invisible, a process revealing both the ghostliness of the police violence and mythical imaginary of the state. The events following Elvan’s death expose a violent contestation between the state’s attempt to attribute personal responsibility to Elvan for his own death, and the political demands of state accountability based on countervailing imaginaries of the state. The thesis tracks the legal resonances of this contestation through a close reading of the trial hearings which began in 2017. The Elvan family’s presence and the perpetrator’s physical absence in the courtroom serve as an indication of this contestation which reveals the linkage between state violence and legal violence. This thesis attempts to conceptualise how the ghostliness of the police violence and the mythical imaginary of the state haunts and suspends the legal proceedings, while awaiting with anticipation. As the Elvan family continues to wait for accountability, this thesis suggests that in trials concerning state violence, legal violence operates as an apparatus of waiting.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2022 14:18
    Last Modified: 20 Jan 2022 07:53


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