Law in Crisis: The Ecstatic Subject of Natural Disaster

By Ruth A. Miller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
Seismic Space
Camps, Cemeteries, Squares, and Monuments

Introduction

Chapters Three and Four addressed variations on the embodied and disembodied subject. Ecstasy was a state experienced by, or manifested through, diseased, decomposing, dismembered, or dead people. Ecstasy produced subjects beside themselves. What I do in this chapter is examine the space that surrounds this subject. Rather than addressing ecstatic citizens and bodies, I address ecstatic space, the type of space demanded by the politics of disaster—and I connect this space to the shattered legal subjects who operate within it. My interest in this chapter, therefore, is both the spaces that are born in the immediate aftermath of the disaster—the camp being the most obvious example—and the spaces that take on new meaning—public squares and cemeteries, for instance—when they are reconfigured on behalf of political subjects in ecstasy.

To get at the nature of ecstatic or seismic space, I return to the nineteenthcentury geologist John Milne's analysis of civilizations (in decline) as civilizations likewise susceptible to earthquake. Recall that Milne's two major points were, first, that in all earthquake countries there is a certain light hearted carelessness and disregard for the morrow, and second, that if, for example, the seismic force of South America were turned loose in England or Germany, it… might result in sinking Germans and Englishmen to the lowest level in the ranks of civilization.”1 I brought up Milne's analysis at the beginning of this book to underscore the process by which seventeenth- and eighteenth-century meta

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Law in Crisis: The Ecstatic Subject of Natural Disaster
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Cultural Lives of Law ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Chapter One - Introduction 1
  • Chapter Two - Writing About Disaster Metaphors in Crisis 33
  • Chapter Three - The Gift of Life Blood, Organs, and Viruses 52
  • Chapter Four - Respect in Death Ghouls and Corpses 85
  • Chapter Five - Seismic Space Camps, Cemeteries, Squares, and Monuments 120
  • Chapter Six - Conclusion 174
  • Reference Matter 183
  • Notes 185
  • Bibliography 221
  • Index 233
  • The Cultural Lives of Law 239
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