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Research project

State Agents on Trial: Hierarchies of State Criminality in Israel and France

Recent works highlight the role of hierarchies in rendering some occurrences of violence tolerable and others unbearable (Derek 2021; Moyn 2021; Ticktin 2011). In this context, this project investigates (1) which hierarchies are at work around state criminality; and (2) what these hierarchies unveil about social tolerance of state violence. To address these questions, the project explores how legal-normative infrastructures facilitate hierarchies of state crime in Israel and France through an examination of State Security Agents’ (SSAs) court trials. As a performative instrument to restore state authority and public trust, SSAs’ trials are an essential arena for exploring changing attitudes towards state criminality. The reversal of roles seen in them – an SSA as the perpetrator – requires the public to reconsider the state’s employment of violence in the name of security.


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