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Mateo Taussig-Rubbo on "Outsourcing Sacrifice: The Labor of Private Military Contractors"
By University at Buffalo Law School
Welcome to UBLaw Conversations, a production of University at Buffalo Law School, The State University of New York. Today is February 14, 2008, and I'm Jim Milles, Professor of Law and Director of the Law Library.
Our guests today are Mateo Taussig-Rubbo and Guyora Binder. Mateo is Associate Professor at University at Buffalo Law School. Mateo holds a Master's degree in Philosophy from Cambridge University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Guyora Binder is Distinguished Professor of Law at University at Buffalo; he holds a J.D. from Yale Law School. They are talking today about Professor Taussig-Rubbo's paper, "Outsourcing Sacrifice: The Labor of Private Military Contractors."
Numerous scandals arising from the United States government?s
increased use of armed private military contractors have drawn attention to the contractors? legally ill-defined position. It is not only, however, that contractors enjoy a complicated and changing relation with respect to various bodies of law and doctrine?military law, international law, state tort law, employment law, sovereign immunity, etc. The contractors are also awkwardly positioned in relation to the traditional understanding of sacrifice which has undergirded Americans? imaginings about those who kill and are killed on behalf of the nation. In this understanding, there is a mutually constitutive relationship between citizenship and sacrifice. This Article examines the contractors? relation to this tradition. It views the emergence of the contractor as an effort by the state to avoid sacrificial liability and discusses the way in which the legal form of contract and the policy of privatization have been means through which this is attempted. The Article then focuses on one case in which this effort ran into difficulties: the spectacular and grotesque killing, dismembering and immolation of four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah. In this event, individuals who had contracted their services came to be seen as having sacrificed for the U.S. In conclusion, the Article urges that while it is important to address the lack of legal clarity surrounding contractors, it is also necessary to explicitly address their position in the tradition of sacrifice and attend to the deeper issues of popular sovereignty which that tradition articulates.
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