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Performing Impunity

2:00pm - 3:30pm / Tuesday 19th September 2023 / Venue: Ground floor, Event Space School of Law & Social Justice
Type: Seminar / Category: Research
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In 2019, the New Zealand government established a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care to investigate the abuse and neglect of children, young people and vulnerable adults in Aotearoa/New Zealand between 1950 and 1999. So far, the public hearings, witness statements and interim reports have charted horrific violence by state and faith-based workers including torture, sexual assaults, serious physical violence and layers of neglect and discrimination. Māori have been especially targeted as victims of abuse and harms.

This paper considers the multiple layers of ignorance-making from state representatives. In particular it shows how state agencies have navigated Commission hearings to demonstrate some acknowledgement of their offending and trauma-making while simultaneously minimising their responsibility and resecuring their institutional legitimacy as protectors of the vulnerable and saviours of Te Tiriti, ethics and integrity. This careful performance stands at odds with the ongoing layers of violence and harms in state care.

Speaker: Professor Elizabeth Stanley
Prof. Elizabeth Stanley is currently the Head of the School of Social and Cultural Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research interests include state crime, human rights, incarceration and justice with her work covering state abuse and incarceration in NZ and the UK, and her work in South Africa, Chile and Timor Leste has focused on torture, truth commissions and international court processes. She has written on climate migration and justice, and her current work revolves around the toleration of state harms. With over 50 published works to date, Elizabeth is an active Board Member on several journals including the 'Journal of Criminology', ‘Criminology and Criminal Justice’, ‘State Crime' as well as ‘Justice, Power and Resistance'.