Since Hannah Arendt wrote Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1964, her stance toward the Eichmann trial in Israel has been the subject of controversy. This essay considers why Arendt, in her reporting on the trial, seems to have insisted on a criterion of “relevance” in the face of pain and focused on procedures in the face of catastrophe. The authors propose that relevance and legality are doing a certain work in Arendt’s text, that they are not the only criteria in play, and that they are not, strictly speaking, criteria at all. Arendt treats relevance and legality as contested and contestable practices that operate in various ways in different contexts. She does this in the service of a broader and heretofore unappreciated argument developed in Eichmann in Jerusalem, in which she tries to participate in the repair of the world broken by what survivors in 1945 referred to as “Nazi extermination plans.” This essay shows how we can see this if we look not only at what Arendt says in Eichmann but also at what she does in that book, at what she recovers from the trial as she casts about for resources that may help renew judgment, responsibility, spontaneity, creativity, and imagination
Between Nuremberg and Jerusalem: Hannah Arendt’s Tikkun Olam
ariella azoulay is a professor of modern culture and media and comparative literature at Brown University. She is the author of Civil Imagination: The Political Ontology of Photography (Verso, 2012), From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947–1950 (Pluto Press, 2011), and The Civil Contract of Photography (Zone Books, 2008). She is a curator (Potential History, 2012, The Body Politic I, 2014) and a documentary filmmaker (Civil Alliances, Palestine, 47–48, 2012, and I Also Dwell among Your Own People: Conversations with Azmi Bishara, 2004).
bonnie honig is Nancy Duke Lewis Professor in the departments of modern culture and media and political science at Brown University. She is the author of Antigone, Interrupted (Cambridge University Press, 2013), Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2009), Democracy and the Foreigner (Princeton University Press, 2001), and Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics (Cornell University Press, 1993). She has edited and coedited several collections, including Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt (Penn State University Press, 1995) and (with Lori Marso) Gender, Power, and Politics in the Films of Lars von Trier (Oxford University Press, 2016).
Ariella Azoulay, Bonnie Honig; Between Nuremberg and Jerusalem: Hannah Arendt’s Tikkun Olam. differences 1 May 2016; 27 (1): 48–93. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-3522757
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