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Cultural Studies Speaker Series - Raja Abillama - November 27, Wednesday

Blasphemous Speech, Judicial Mercy, and the Sacred Text in Lebanon
What is the relationship between certain kinds of speech, merciful acts, and a text? What is the relationship between blasphemous speech, a judicial enactment of mercy, and learning the correct meaning of a sacred text? What happens when blasphemy, mercy, and textuality are brought together in a single judicial enactment? What principle could secure the coherence of the enactment by which they are so joined? What kind of power would authorize—enable and constrain—such joining? What kind of powers might such joining release? What sensibility would need be cultivated to sustain it, and by what technology is it to be cultivated? I investigate these questions by examining two ostensibly innovative judicial decisions that were recently passed in Lebanon, in a context of a globally expanding discourse of ecumenism, shifting attitudes towards crime and punishment, and secular assumptions about meaning and the practice of reading, memorizing, and reciting a text
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