Painting History: Picture, Witness and Ancient Historiography

2024, History & Theory 63.2: 149-181 (forthcoming). 

Painting History asks what is at stake in historiography's millennia-long courtship of painting: why do historians identify themselves with painters and their work with pictures? In this article, I turn to an episode of interaction between textual and visual media (particularly to Herodotus, Polybius and the Alexander Mosaic) to argue that both are structured by the same simple desire that continues to exert its force today: the desire to see for oneself. The article ultimately uses this convergence of word and picture to revive a figure long forgotten in the theory of history: the witness.

Sovereign Citizens in Law and Caselaw: an Overview

2024, Nederlands Juristenblad 254: 300-315 (in Dutch). 

Sovereign Citizens provides the first overview of Dutch judicial interactions with a group of citizens whose numbers have been steadily on the rise since the pandemic: the Sovereign Citizens. On the basis of 110 unique cases, the article lays out which cases Sovereign Citizens bring to court; which arguments they advance while in court; and how courts respond or might respond. Drawing on comparative legal material, the article places this movement in an international context and ends with a series of broader reflections on the sudden appearance of this group in the Dutch legal system.

In Flagrante Delicto: On the Legal Implications of Sight

2023, Arethusa 56.1: 77-116 (link).

In Flagrante Delicto mobilizes the ancient puzzle of “catching somebody in the act” to reconsider our understanding of crime and punishment. The puzzle resides in the fact that criminals caught in the act were punished more severely than those who were not. But why? The article shows that the distinction is expressive of the legal power of sight: the crime seen to be done is worse than the crime that has remained undetected. This surprising link between sensory experiences of crime and gravity of punishment, I argue, rekindles a forgotten connection between the eye and the law, thus reorienting our understanding of why we punish: because of what was visible. 

Debt in the Scales: Mechanics and Metaphor in the ancient Mediterranean

2023, Mètis N.S. 21: 283-317 (link). 

Debt in the Scales understands the metaphor of the scales of justice as a negotiation of the problem of value equivalence: why would anyone ever accept monetary compensation as being “equal” to the wrong done, instead of exacting “an eye for an eye”? This article argues that the scales’ legal import resides in what, conceptually and technologically, the instrument can do: able to render dissimilar things equivalent, the balance makes all objects, including crime and compensation, potentially exchangeable.