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Textures of the OrdinaryDoing Anthropology after Wittgenstein$
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Veena Das

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823287895

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823287895.001.0001

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A Child Disappears

A Child Disappears

Law in the Courts, Law in the Interstices of Everyday Life

(p.216) 8 A Child Disappears
Textures of the Ordinary

Veena Das

Fordham University Press

Focusing on a case in which an eight-year-old girl is abducted, forcibly confined, and raped, this chapter analyzes the judgment of the court sessions. Paying close attention to the grammatical structure of both written and oral statements, the chapter shows the different kinds of splits that happen within these statements. The judge’s pronouncements show a doubling of voice—one voice through which she converts the narrated events into objects recognizable to the law, and a second voice in which the law speaks through the voice of the judge. Similarly, the child witness is shown to be split into the witness, one who saw the various acts of horrifying violence done to her, and second, the victim who experienced these events on her body. Finally, the chapter reads the minor contradictions that were papered over in the court to take the reader to the life of the law outside the court into the neighborhood where the everyday harassment by police officers, the bribes and the scandals, are the stuff of everyday experiences. The notion of ordinary realism helps in the analysis to anchor the contradictory affects in which the law embodies both threat and promise.

Keywords:   body, child witness, courts, facts as fictions, grammar, law, ordinary realism, police, rape, violence

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