In non-democratic regimes, law is considered merely a facade for state violence and political repression. Susanne Verheul's Performing Power in Zimbabwe challenges this assumption by exploring the constitutive and performative roles of law as a dialogue that creates, defines, and (re)negotiates the relationship between the state and citizens. Using in-depth interviews and court observations of political trials in Zimbabwe's Magistrates' Courts between 2000 and 2012, Verheul shows how law serves as a language through which conceptions of citizenship, state authority, and legitimacy are contested and where courtrooms become performative sites where political power is simultaneously reproduced and transformed. Verheul illustrates how court performances use narrative, material, and sensory dimensions to effectively disrupt state political power while simultaneously exercising and communicating the state's coercive power. Law thus serves as a “language of stateness” and a “language of legitimation,” yet also a language of meaning-making, where actors construct and contest competing truths,...
Review: Performing Power in Zimbabwe: Politics, Law, and the Courts since 2000, by Susanne Verheul
Rebecca A. Reid; Review: Performing Power in Zimbabwe: Politics, Law, and the Courts since 2000, by Susanne Verheul. National Review of Black Politics 1 October 2022; 3 (3-4): 161–164. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/nrbp.2022.3.3-4.161
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