Sensing Justice through Contemporary Spanish Cinema

Aesthetics, Politics, Law

Mónica López Lerma

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Explores the aesthetic frames that mediate the sense(s) and experiences of justice
  • Close analysis of films such as Pan’s Labyrinth, High Heels, Common Wealth, The Method, No Rest for the Wicked and Unit 7
  • Engages with legal theory, film studies, aesthetics and politics
  • Approaches law and film as multisensory, embodied practices
  • Draws on European case studies in a field largely dominated by Anglo-American discourse

Sensing Justice through Contemporary Spanish Cinema examines the aesthetic frames that mediate the sensory perception and signification of law and justice in the context of 21st-century Spain. What senses do these frames privilege or downgrade? What kind of subjects do they show, construct, and address? What kind of affective and ethical responses do they invite? What kind of judgments do they invite?

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AcknowledgementsIntroduction: Sensing Justice

1. Framing Aesthetics: Witnessing Francoism in Pan’s Labyrinth An Aesthetic Approach to Human Rights CinemaViewers as WitnessesVidal: Franco’s "Politics of Revenge"Mercedes: The "Heroic Memory" of the ResistanceOfelia: The Two Worlds and the Vigilant ImaginationConclusion: The Return

2. Campy Performances: Queering Law in High Heels Postmodern Re-ImaginingsThe Persecution of the LGBTQ people under FrancoThe Significance of the Performance for the ViewerLaw as Mother: Ethics and Justice of CareLaw as Performance: Ethics and Justice of AlterityJudging Law, Performing JusticeCinematic Judgment: Ethics of ResponseTruth and JusticeCamp Aesthetics: Law as Queer Performance

3. Dissensus in the Community: Disrupting Neoliberal Affects in La Comunidad Spain and the Neoliberal "Politics of Consensus"The Regime of the All-VisibleJulia and the Consumer SocietyThe Community of Neighbors and the politics of ConsensusCharlie’s DissensusCharlie and Julia: A New Community?

4. The Sound of Protest: Acousmatic Resistance in El Método The Grönholm Method: Beyond PanopticismThe Split Screen: Framing the Space of the Visible The Acousmatic Sound of Protest

5. Surveilling Terror: Post-Western Topographies in No Rest for the Wicked Infinite Justice and the Ethical TurnThe Media and the Securitization of SpaceTrinidad and the Politics of the Post-WesternJudge Chacón and the Topography of the Possible

6. Policing the City: Haptic Visuality in Grupo 7 Mapping the City: The Production of SpaceThe Right to the CityThe Construction of the Urban Space as ResistanceConclusion: Law and Space


[...] Lerma's book breaks new ground in the study of law and film.
Marco Wan, International Journal for the Semiotics of Law
Thanks to its attention to detail and an impressive theoretical reach this book will be of interest to those working in film studies, legal humanities and Spanish cultural studies and reaches beyond each of these areas individually to represent a truly transdisciplinary approach.
Abigail Loxham, Law & Literature
Through a compelling combination of theoretical creativity, historical scholarship, and brilliant close readings, Sensing Justice through Contemporary Spanish Cinema opens up a series of questions about the cinematic configuration of sensory experience, and about the sensory grounding of legal orders in contemporary Spain, that will be on the agenda of law and film scholars for years to come.
Javier Krauel, Law and Humanities
Mónica López Lerma is Associate Professor of Spanish and Humanities at Reed College. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and a Graduate Certificate in Film Studies from the University of Michigan. She is the co-editor of Rancière and Law (Routledge, 2018). She was editor-in-chief of No-Foundations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Law and Justice from 2012 to 2017.

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