Last spring the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag was mobilized and quickly popularized by politicians, celebrities, concerned citizens, and the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. The articulated goal was the return of the more than three hundred Nigerian girls abducted from a school in Nigeria by Islamic militants. The support of a global network interested in protecting those victimized by the abductions led to a significantly impressive mobilization in which millions of dollars were committed to communicating the demand for the return of innocent girls to their families. The forms of sentimentality associated with the movement coupled with the invocation of the responsibility to protect, and the place of trials as the mode of social repair represents a contemporary brand of international justice that is the focus of this talk.
The justice formation that Clarke explores is concerned with why the history of inequality was never a way to talk about justice for the abducted girls and why the campaign was so ineffective as a mechanism for returning the girls and preventing future violence. By asking what the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag might tell us about the place of the political in an increasingly juridified social world, Clarke explores the existence of the formation of a new form of neo-justice of the twenty-first century that negates the relevance of inequality embedded in much deeper histories and politics that inspire violence and instead focuses on justice as norms of individual responsibility.
Clarke concludes by showing how this new regime represents a justice fetish in which exaggerated qualities of justice are attributed to it and sentimental discourses are used to reinforce its moral or legal force. She shows how it exists substantively as a tool for the reinforcement of particular forms of secular and military governance in the War on Terror rather than as a tool of restorative redress.