The Sovereign Confessions: International Relations and the Iranian Post-Elections Show-Trials

Setareh Shohadaei


Following the controversial 2009 presidential elections in Iran, a series of mass trials were conducted publicizing the confessions of key reformist figures as well as other dissidents. The confessions were widely criticized as theatrical, based on reports of human rights abuses, torture, and judicial procedural offences. This critique, however, often labelled the trials as either barbaric acts of terror, or at best as unintelligent failures of the Iranian government. In this paper, I engage with the most serious of such analyses, arguing that the show-trials are not mere strategic errors on the part of the regime; rather, a more in-depth structural analysis of the concept of sovereignty is required to understand the enabling condition of the trials.

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ISSN (Print): 1705-2947
ISSN (Online): 1712-5634