David Loher

Social Anthropologist PhD

Everyday Suffering and the Abstract Time-Reckoning of Law (Creeping Death II)

June 2020

How does time structure the allocation of responsibility in the context of large-scale industrial disasters? This research project is a follow-up of Creeping Death and studies with ethnographic methods the Processo Eternit bis, the follow-up case brought against the former main investor in Europe’s largest asbestos-processing factory in Casale Monferrato (Italy) after the dismissal of the first case by the Italian Supreme Court Corte Suprema di cassazione in 2014. Initially scheduled for 2020, the court hearings at the Corte di assise in Novara have been postponed to June 2021 due to the global pandemic.The case was initially filed at the Court in Turin. After a lengthy administrative procedure to determine whether a second procedure does not violate the ne bis in idem principle, in 2017 the Corte Suprema di cassazione eventually re-classified the case and sent it to different regional courts.

This project compares the temporal order of the lived experience of the asbestos disaster in the affected community with the abstract time-reckoning of law. It examines how these incommensurable temporalities reconfigure the allocation of moral and legal responsibility for an industrial disaster and shows how these contradictions are related to the victims’ expectations of justice and their experience of injustice.

Everyday Suffering and the Abstract Time-Reckoning of Law (Creeping Death II) - June 1, 2020 - David Loher