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Wednesday 18 March 2020 16.30 - 18.30
I-4 CRI04 Justice, Crime & French Empire
Johan Huizinga, 006
Network: Criminal Justice Chair: Emmanuel Blanchard
Organizer: Jennifer Sessions Discussant: Emmanuel Blanchard
Jérémy Boutier : Criminal Law in Ile Bourbon/La Reunion: Elaboration, Application and Consequences (1664-1946)
Despite an almost complete state of assimilation with continental France, the département of La Réunion, still keeps some specificities due to its geographic situation and its past.

During a long time, before the official end of the colonial period in 1946, the status of the colony evolved in reason of several ... (Show more)
Despite an almost complete state of assimilation with continental France, the département of La Réunion, still keeps some specificities due to its geographic situation and its past.

During a long time, before the official end of the colonial period in 1946, the status of the colony evolved in reason of several factors, especially its legislation. Inside this crucial matter, the one of justice was the most important because a colonial justice had to guarantee a colonial public order mainly because a slave’s revolt was the highest threat according to the white colonists.

In that way, from the beginning of the colonization in the middle of the XVIIth century, the justice had been adapted to the local context: an empty colony with only imported people (whatever the color of their skin or their legal status), a colony situated to a long distance from continental France and a quick stranglehold of the colony by the East Indies Company from 1664 until 1766.

Regarding these specificities, the justice in force in the colony was the result of a double source of legislation: from the Metropole (the East Indies Company, the King or the Republican regime) or from the colony (in the respect of an official delegation of lawmaking or by local initiatives). This coexistence of two law streams were fostered by some actors who had economic interests in the colony and who could have enough power to influence the legislation or merely the legislator.

This paper proposes to focus on Île Bourbon/La Réunion as an example of a colony of the French First colonial Empire, which started to elaborate its justice in the XVIIth century, at first in its own terms (e.g. the local ordinance of 1674) but also as a result of metropolitan will (e.g. the Black Code of 1723).

Actors doubtless had an influence on the shape of the law, which was sometimes the consequence of criminal cases. Several examples are meaningful to illustrate it. In 1808, Crespin and Bertrand decided to keep on forbidding the quashing of the appeal court’s decisions during the Cassignol case (who had been murdered and his body carved up). In 1817, the Furcy case pushed Philippe Desbassayns to change the organization of justice in 1827. This text was the base of justice in the colony until 1946, and was implemented in Martinique, Guadeloupe and Guyanne.

The paper will be also an occasion to take stock of the right of the defense of the subject to trial in La Réunion after the abolition of slavery in order to make some comparisons with the colonies of the Second French Empire, especially Algeria. Because former slaves or descendants of slaves composed the majority of the population, criminal law evolved slowly due to prejudice against them and also against Indian indentured workers. These absences show the incomplete citizenship of the inhabitants of the colonies relative to those of the metropolitan France. (Show less)

Claire Eldridge : Capturing Colonial Voices: French Military Justice Archives and the “Imperial Turn” in First World War Studies
On 24 October 1916, French troops valiantly re-captured the symbolically significant Fort Douamont, helping bring to a close the epic and immensely costly Battle of Verdun. That same month, the 45th Infantry Division, whose regiments had been heavily involved in this fighting, accused soldiers Louis Martin-Brachet and Louis Solary of ... (Show more)
On 24 October 1916, French troops valiantly re-captured the symbolically significant Fort Douamont, helping bring to a close the epic and immensely costly Battle of Verdun. That same month, the 45th Infantry Division, whose regiments had been heavily involved in this fighting, accused soldiers Louis Martin-Brachet and Louis Solary of desertion, found Abraham Marciano guilty of abandoning his post, charged Joseph Bottari with verbally and physical threatening his superior officer, and sentenced Ali Ben Abdallah Ben Salah to one year in prison for assault. As this juxtaposition demonstrates, courage and heroism coexisted with some less than glorious behaviour by soldiers during the First World War. French military justice archives, held by the Service Historique de la Défense (SHD) in Paris, conserve records of c.140,000 cases of soldiers brought before a military tribunal between 1914 and 1918. Their ‘crimes’ ranged from the relatively minor such as ‘causing a scandal’ while drunk to more serious offences such as insubordination, desertion, rape and even murder. Focusing on records of units containing high proportions of the 437,653 colonial subjects who fought between 1914 and 1918, this paper uses the wealth of information contained in the military tribunal dossiers to demonstrate the value of these sources for exploring questions of race, empire and criminality. As one of the few places where we find the voices of both colonial and socio-economically marginalised white soldiers, interrogating these archival materials allows for a consideration of the impact of telescoping men with disparate geographic, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic origins into the confined space of the Western Front. Prioritising a qualitative history from below centred on these voices over existing quantitative approaches, this paper explores how race intersected with other markers of identity to structure combatant experiences during the First World War. (Show less)

Rachel Gillett : Rapping and taking the Rap: French Rap, Criminality, and the Courts
Since its emergence as a cultural force in the early 1990s, French rap has been entangled with processes and perceptions of crime and criminality. The influence of early American rap, with its emphasis on the ‘hood, on gang violence and drugs and guns is partly responsible for this. But in ... (Show more)
Since its emergence as a cultural force in the early 1990s, French rap has been entangled with processes and perceptions of crime and criminality. The influence of early American rap, with its emphasis on the ‘hood, on gang violence and drugs and guns is partly responsible for this. But in France the role of crime and criminality in rap has had its own history, and it reveals uniquely French social processes relating to race, to the colonial past, and to state policing. French rappers discuss crime openly in their work and link it to the socio-ecnomic and urban reality of the banlieues. They also identify the police as criminal in their work, accusing police of harassment, racial profiling, and brutality. In turn police and the state have launched a number of criminal cases against both rappers, and their lyrics.
This paper cannot possibly present a detailed history of the intersection between criminality, the colonial past, and rap (hip hop) in France. However, it offers a brief examination of three relevant aspects. First it looks at the number of criminal cases of libel and slander launched against rap artists. It asks whether artists from other musical genres have faced similar numbers of cases and examines the charges and the outcomes.
In a second, related section, it discusses the representation of police as criminals in French rap that gave rise to such cases. It identifies recurrent tropes and metaphors across a corpus of 500 songs from 1995-2005, using both qualitative and quantitative techniques of analysis.
The third section relates the quantitative and legal data discussed in the first two sections to the colonial past and to France’s historical treatment of racial difference. It will examine that relationship and discuss any connections between France’s colonial and racial past and the criminalization ofFrench rap and rappers.
This paper is part of a larger project that brings tools of cultural analysis together with quantitative methods and legal analysis, and will consider these methodological challenges and findings. (Show less)

Jennifer Sessions : Algerian Crimes in a Metropolitan Court: “Delocalization” and the Politics of Colonial Justice in Montpellier, France
“Judicial delocalization” is a concept usually associated with legal cosmopolitanism and the globalization of law and judicial systems since 1945. Although the term itself is specifically French, legal scholars and political philosophers see the practice of moving litigation from one venue to another across political boundaries as a reflection of ... (Show more)
“Judicial delocalization” is a concept usually associated with legal cosmopolitanism and the globalization of law and judicial systems since 1945. Although the term itself is specifically French, legal scholars and political philosophers see the practice of moving litigation from one venue to another across political boundaries as a reflection of new, universal conceptions of rights and cosmopolitan supranational institutions. French philosopher Julie Allard identifies judicial delocalization—described by another French scholar as a kind of poor man’s forum shopping—as one key means of “universalizing” local cases and thereby globalizing law. Lawyers and victims unable to obtain justice in their home courts seek out forums better disposed or equipped to enforce postwar norms of universal human rights, regardless of the origins of plaintiffs or defendants or the location of the offense. Thus, for example, in the 1990s, Burmese peasants brought suit in U.S. and Belgian courts against American- and French-based oil companies for complicity in human rights violations (forced labor, murder, torture, and rape) in petroleum and gas projects in Myanmar. Other prominent examples of delocalization include Holocaust victims looking to U.S. courts to right wrongs committed against them by Nazi Germany, whether for compensation for forced labor or the restitution of looted property.

If the best-known forms of judicial delocalization are associated with postwar globalization, however, the practice itself pre-dates the advent of modern international human rights law. Before 1945, the legal pluralism of colonial empires opened up the possibility of “judicial delocalization” for crimes committed in the colonies, where courts served most often to defend the local status quo. In the eighteenth century, the East India Company’s charter allowed Indian litigants to appeal to the Privy Council in London. In the nineteenth, the British government could prosecute colonial officials in either the locality where the crime was committed or the metropole.

The proposed paper will concentrate on the practice of judicial delocalization in French Algeria, with a focus on criminal law. From 1882 to 1942, Muslim Algerian colonial subjects were judged by separate courts under the native code of the indigénat, except where European settlers were involved as victims. The latter were handled by local cours d’assises operating under French procedure with settler-dominated juries. But in both cases, even colonial subjects had the right to appeal to higher, French courts and to seek procedural redress, including a change of venue, from the French supreme court. Focusing on the southern French city of Montpellier, to which a number of Algerian cases were transferred on appeal, this paper will explore the circumstances under which defense lawyers obtained delocalization, the ways in which colonial cases were argued before metropolitan juries, and the impact of delocalization on the public discourse and outcomes of such cases. Delocalization in the French-Algerian context, as in earlier imperial contexts and in modern international law, helped transform colonial dispute into broader tests of principles and conceptions of rights in the context of the French colonial empire. (Show less)



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