Sentimentalizing and Legal Language. Affect and Emotion in Courtroom Talk
Bens, Jonas – 2017
In The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, the International Criminal Court tried the destruction of UNESCO World Heritage sites as a war crime for the first time. In this case, the value of things in relation to the value of persons became the central issue. Based on courtroom ethnography conducted during the proceedings and informed by affect and emotion research, this article identifies the rhetorical practice of sentimentalizing persons and things as an important process of legal meaning-making. Through sentimentalizing, all parties rhetorically produce normative arrangements of bodies by way of emotionally differentiating the relevant persons, things, and other entities from and affectively relating them to each other. Sentimentalizing provides an affective-emotional frame in which to determine the degree of guilt and innocence, justice and injustice.