One morning Peter Vermeersch received a letter informing him that he had been randomly selected for jury service. What seemed to be a straightforward case of robbery soon turned out to be a much more complex affair. Before he knew it, Peter found himself in the depths of the Palace of Justice in Brussels, confronting questions about the true circumstances of a murder, having to deal with the rituals of justice and a shy, unrevealing suspect.
What does it feel like to be a victim, or a relative of the victim? What do you truly do to someone by punishing him? And where does this punishment lead? Does it help? Does the convict come out of jail worse than he went in? What is true justice?
Vermeersch is one of the brightest contemporary Belgian public intellectuals. He reflects on violence, on the true value of punishment and justice today, and shares his penetrating insights on what better forms of justice and fairer laws might look like.
Peter Vermeersch is a Belgian professor of social science and politics, as well as a writer of essays and literary non-fiction, and a poet. His work focuses on minority politics, nationalism in East-Central Europe and the Balkans, democratisation and, most recently, restorative justice. His previous novel Ex: Over een land dat zoek is (Ex. About a Country that is Gone) was nominated for the AKO Literature Prize, the Bob den Uyl Prize, the Golden Owl and the E. du Perron Prize. In 2016 he won the Literature Prize of the Province of West Flanders. Peter has studied, lived, and conducted research in several European countries and he is now research coordinator of the LINES Institute (Leuven International and European Studies) at the University of Leuven. He was previously visiting scholar at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University (2007-2008). Together with David Van Reybrouck, he brought to life the European Constitution in Verse!
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