Tuesday, January 06, 2009
War, Time, and Law
Mary L. Dudziak
This post is part of a project that seeks to unpack the concept of "wartime," and to illuminate the impact of assumptions about war’s temporality on our thinking about law and war. I began this thread last summer. Here are some additional thoughts about war, time, and law.
100% interesting. Please post more. Also, last summer is a long time ago, at least linearly :-) Can you post links to previous posts in this series, or reprint them all in one spot?
The only time of concern to the law is billable hours. "Wartime" and "peacetime" have nothing to do with time, but whether the country is in a state of emergency which enhances executive power. It should be noted that the state of emergency may be related to natural disasters (hurricanes, epidemics) as well as manmade ones. Also there have been economic emergencies, such as the one we are now in, in which price controls or force majeur interventions in the market are authorized. But the important thing about states of emergency are the enhancement of executive powers. It is for this reason that the Korean War state of emergency was maintained so long; not until the end of trust in the executive that accompanied the ending of the Vietnam War was the Korean state of emergency lifted. And it was this enhanced power that the Cheney-Bush administration sought to reestablish even before the events of 9/11 brought the justifying emergency.
I've added a link to my first post on this, which is largely an intro and list of useful readings. More to come as I work things out in the paper I'm writing, though it may be a while between posts on this. I'll have an SSRN paper at some point.
Needless to say, I disagree with r.friedman., although I share his/her interest in the conditions for expansion of executive power. I have tentative plans for a panel on time at a history meeting with other historians doing critical work on war and its impact. Another paper would be on "emergency" as a form of time.
In your research, have you come across law in any other nation - related to war or not - that uses something other than linear time?
I would reframe Bart's question this way: since the experience of time is heterogeneous (see post), what role does the state play in constructions of time, and how do nations compare on that question? This is a great comparative history question. My focus in on the U.S., and I will have more to say on the state's role in framing American "wartimes." Works on the history of time draw upon world history. But as to a transnational comparison of state constructions of time, I would be most interested to know of other work.
Mary, if you're willing to entertain such things, you might consider looking at the Inca state (in particular, the ceque system) to see how notions of time and space--both linear and cyclical--intersected in the political project. To get started, there's a fairly accessible article by Tom Zuidema--a great guy to talk with, by the way--available here.
Thank you to PMS Chicago. From the download, I can't tell where the essay appeared (and so what the citation would be). If you have that, I would be greatful for it. Many thanks for the reference.
For those interested, on time and the state in literature on the U.S., I've found Thomas Allen's new book, A Republic in Time: Temporality and Social Imagination in Nineteenth Century America, linked to in the post, to be of great interest.
"The only time of concern to the law is billable hours."
Methinks you confuse what is of concern to the law as opposed to what is of concern to lawyers - at least those of us in private practice.
I can't find a reference, either. I'm sorry for that--it would seem to be a upcoming book chapter.
However, the chapter is a variation on a theme that goes back through his work, and the bibliography available to you there has a fairly decent assortment of his previous publications.
Your post has lead me to spend the morning reading some great anthropology pieces, so thanks for that. I can't wait to read the papers that come out of your project.
Some of the satellite astronomy news and other recent terrestrial observatory reports, always include a puzzling moment concerning what precisely it could be that provides ever closer glimpses at the dawn of the universe when new technologies enable some distant galactic event to come into focus.
Out of the celestial, and looking at earth contemporary a moment, reading the article posted also produced an image of the reported seagoing prisons a nation has utilized in strife for the past six years in a country far from the US; similarly, the experiments in sensory deprivation utilized in interrogation have an aspect of abstraction.
In all, time as a factor in shaping history seems worthwhile.
Also I would add, extrinsically conceptualizing a moment with known historical variables, technology has influenced outcomes, if one disregards the development of unique civilizations. Sometimes new genetic science produces the same impression, that there are only atoms, cells, organizations; and there is a way to match the patterns from various epochs.
Ah, Mourad --
Do I contradict myself? Sometimes the law appears as solely a power game, sometimes it appears as a platonic ideal, even approaching justice. Sometimes it appears as a business, sometimes as an intellectual endeavor. Sometimes it appears as something with which God has blessed America, sometimes as something to which She has damned us. Sometimes its practitioners are noble, sometimes they are sleazeballs. No, I do not contradict myself, I express the contradictions of the law.
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I too am looking forward to reading more about this project. I have found Greenhouse's work particularly valuable for my own work, which looks at the links between notions of community and notions of time, particularly how time concepts are used in processions of social inclusion/exclusion. Greenhouse's discussion of time systems as 'methods of managing difference' is particularly interesting in this regard and could also be relevant to the question of wartime - particularly how might notions of time be used to stifle disagreement within the national community - for examples sentiments suggesting that now (i.e. wartime) is not the right time to be critical, we have to pull together and leave questions to the future (i.e. peacetime).
Her suggestion that shifts in time concepts are used to help legitimise new state structures is also interesting and might be of relevance.
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