Thursday, October 20, 2016

Songs of Society

As noted in a previous post, music provides the sounds of life for many of us. For the listener, music has the ability to transport to another place or experience and can also provide a frame for events and times. The listener might be passively engaged but is still engaged. For the artist, however, music is obviously more personal. It is a reflection of the artist’s personality, experiences, emotions, travels, and society. In many ways, music transcends the individual artist – or even a group of artists – and creates an image of his/her society. The documentary film Song of Lahore provides an example of the ways in which this occurs and the impact this has on the artist and society. It also presents insights into how different artists and musical genres can come together to craft music that is truly reflective of a global art form.

Song of Lahore tells the story of the Sachal Jazz Ensemble, a group of musicians playing traditional Pakistani instruments for not only traditional music but also songs from other genres. In particular, the group performed a rendition of the jazz classic Take Five using traditional instruments that garnered attention around the world through social media. Eventually, this performance came to the attention of Wynton Marsalis, who extended an invitation to the group to come to New York City and join the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in a performance at the famed Lincoln Center venue.

The film presents the stories of several key members of the group and explores how music has shaped their families and their lives. Through these presentations, it becomes clear that music has been a constant source of pride, identity and struggle for these talented artists and for Pakistani society in general. The film notes the prior existence of a booming musical industry in Pakistan and its destruction at the hands of changes in government and social mores regarding the appropriateness of music generally. This has a devastating impact on society in terms of cultural expression and enjoyment. It has a more personally devastating impact on individual artists, such as those in the Sachal Jazz Ensemble, who saw their craft, livelihoods and family traditions swept away as a result.

Persecution for musical performances created an environment in which many artists stopped performing and others performed in secret, constantly aware of the risks to their safety. While the political and social climate may have eased somewhat in terms of its restrictions on music and musical performances, the film documents the ways in which musicians are still subject to societal ridicule and threat. For example, one of the performers notes that his grandson was targeted for violence while walking through the street carrying a musical instrument.

News of the invitation to New York City is viewed as a fantastic opportunity for the Sachal Jazz Ensemble, although the leaders are aware that they must be perfect in their performances. They begin a strict practice regimen that is not well received by some and, along the way, there are decisions to drop members from the traveling group. This is not an easy decision but it is one made in order to allow the Sachal Jazz Ensemble to perform at its best for its members and as a representative of Pakistan. Throughout the practices and once the group arrives in New York City there is a sense that the performance is about far more than just highlighting an individual group.

On arriving in New York City, the group takes the opportunity to enjoy the major tourist sites before settling down to a grueling practice schedule with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. This is necessary to coordinate the performance of Take Five, which is performed by musicians from both groups. Coordination of this particular aspect of the performance is quite difficult and results in many artistic changes and disagreements, demonstrating differences in style and expectations within the groups and between the groups.

There is perhaps no better microcosm of cultural blending and the problems faced when completing it. And yet, completed it is, and with remarkable harmony and grace. The performance is an overwhelming success, hailed by critics and audiences as well as by members of the groups themselves.  

Overall, Song of Lahore presents the many different layers of meaning held by music. It offers a glimpse into a society in that has devalued music and artists but in which a core group of artists has maintained an attachment to and love of its art form. It also allows an understanding of how music can serve as a cultural bridge between different societies, allowing artists to speak the same language and audiences to hear the same passion in music regardless their nationality or location.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Legitimizing False Confessions In Popular Culture - A Look at Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and the Depravity Standard.

It seems like every few weeks (or perhaps less) we are informed through news media of a fresh new instance of someone who has been released on account of a wrongful conviction. There is indeed a necessity to be aware of the various possible causes of wrongful convictions – preferably before such occurrences transpire. Not everyone reads news articles, and fewer still have the time or inclination to peruse through scholarly literature or actual jurisprudence. Enter film, television and other mediums of popular culture.

Mediums of popular culture are excellent teaching tools to highlight and make visible (potential) miscarriages of justice and wrongful convictions, in addition to their possible causes. There have been a number of commercial and documentary films that exhibit narratives concerning wrongful convictions (e.g. In The Name of The Father) and the use of questionable police techniques such as “Mr. Big” sting operations (see Mr. Big: A Documentary).

Why look to narratives told through moving images? At a basic level, they serve as accessible means to understand or acquire information about important phenomena. As scholars, Charles Ogletree Jr. and Austin Sarat (2015, p.4) have articulated: “Mass-mediated images are as powerful, pervasive, and important as are other early twenty-first century social forces – including globalization neocolonialism, and human rights – in shaping and transforming political and legal life.”

Film and television shows are useful tools for depicting legal events. However, as Ogletree and Sarat (2015, p. 5) further posit, they “are not just mirrors in which we see legal and social realities reflected in some more or less distorted way.” Rather, they argue (2015, p.5), such visual mediums “project alternative realities that are made different by their invention and by the editing and framing on which the moving image depends.”

With Wrongful Convictions Day upon us, I thought I would use this blawg post to discuss a particular television episode that connects to the theme of wrongful convictions and specifically how particular police techniques may give rise to them.

One of the various possible instances in which a wrongful conviction may occur is through coercive interrogations and the production of a false confession. An episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) entitled the "Depravity Standard" (Season 17, Episode 9) illustrates this and other associated problems (presently available on Netflix). SVU is a fictional television show highlighting the work of police officers and prosecuting attorneys as they investigate and prosecute, respectively, sex-related crimes.  

The episode, in particular, features the attempted prosecution of  Lewis Hodda (played by Tom Sizemore), for the kidnapping of two children, one of whom he supposedly murdered. In pursuing the accused with respect to the murdered child, there is no direct evidence. The main evidence to be used is a confession procured by Lieutenant Olivia Benson (the lead character of the show who is played by Mariska Hargitay). As the episode unfolds, we learn that Olivia uses lies and veiled threats to get the accused to incriminate himself. Despite the presence of such techniques, Olivia seeks to insistently project the notion that the confession is inherently voluntary and provides a legitimate basis upon which to convict.
During the trial, Olivia takes the stand to testify on behalf of the prosecution regarding the confession that she secured. After Hodda's videotaped confession is played in court, the assistant district attorney, Rafael Barba (played by Raúl Esparza) asks Olivia if she was present during the confession. Olivia states that the confession was voluntary and Hodda had been informed of his rights (thus establishing that the procedural norms situated within the Miranda warning were adhered to). Barba later inquires from Olivia whether any coercion, physical violence or threats were used. Olivia states, unequivocally: "Absolutely not."

Olivia is then cross-examined by Hodda's counsel, Lisa Hassler (played by Robin Weigert). After some initial questioning, the following dialogue ensues.

Hassler: Finally, you had Lewis Hodda in your interrogation room.

Olivia: Yes, where he confessed to murdering a seven-year old boy. It's on the video.

Hassler: I am much more interested in what is not on the video. So, you interrogated Lewis Hodda for over six hours before turning on a camera. During all that time, you didn't coerce him? You didn't threaten him?

Olivia: No, I followed police procedure. 

Hassler: Did you tell him that witnesses had seen him with other children who had been murdered? 

Olivia: I may have. 

Hassler: Was it true?

Olivia: Um, the Supreme Court has ruled that police are allowed to make misrepresentations. 

Hassler: By misrepresentations, you mean lies?

Olivia: Basically, yes. 

Hassler: So, after lying to him about these nonexistent witnesses, didn't you tell him, and I quote [Hassler reads from a document]: "Nobody likes a "chomo" in state prison"?

Olivia: Yes, but it was a matter of urgency. The defendant had another child. 

Hassler: Your Honor, please instruct the witness to answer the question only. 

Judge: Lieutenant, you are flirting with causing a mistrial. The jury will disregard. 

Hassler: What is a “chomo”, Lieutenant?

Olivia: It's a child molester. 

Hassler: And ‘chomos’, or child molesters -- are themselves -- frequently assaulted in prison, are they not?

Olivia: Yes, they are. 

Hassler: So, you lied about having the evidence that would send him to prison and you threatened to label him a 'chomo' when he got there. 

Olivia: We had good reason to believe that he was a child molester. 

Hassler: And you promised to advertise that belief to insure he would be assaulted when he got to prison. Then, and only then, did he confess. 

Olivia: He confessed because he was guilty.

SVU’s main protagonists are police officers and prosecuting lawyers with supporting roles played by victims of crime. Their main adversaries are the designated criminals and their counsel. Pitted against such enemies, the resort to such sharp practices projects an aura of justification. The ends justify the means. 

That which emerges from the scene is the manner in which lying becomes or is presented as normalized. I am not solely referring to Olivia’s (or her real-world counterparts’) flagrant lying during interrogations (which is perfectly legal). Rather, it is also the lies that some officers may tell themselves and the court under oath to secure a conviction. In the scene, Olivia avowedly asserts that the confession is voluntary despite threatening to reveal Hodda’s status as a “chomo” to other inmates and thus placing him in a vulnerable position.  

A further problematic aspect of the narrative is the use of the video-recording as purportedly solid and persuasive evidence of guilt. Guilt springs forth not merely from the word of a law enforcement official testifying but more importantly from the accused’s own lips as captured on video – and thus the video doesn’t lie. What is of course problematic is that the video does not reveal all the things that were said to Hodda prior to his final confession. As some jurisprudence suggests, while a video-recording is not required, courts may find it highly suspect that an interrogation is only partially recorded (especially where recording equipment is available) (see e.g. R. v. Moore-McFarlane).

There is an added aspect to the video-recording that does not get addressed specifically in the episode which is also telling. While a video-recording is a helpful tool to hear and see what has transpired during an interrogation, how that recording is effected can have a substantial impact on how the viewer perceives it. Though we hear Olivia’s voice, the image in the video-recording focuses solely on Hodda and it is a close-up. This is not insignificant. Psychologist Daniel Lassiter conducted a series of experiments several years ago with mock juries using video-camera footage of an interrogation from two vantage points – one camera was focused solely on the accused and the other captured both the accused and the interrogators (See Mnookin, 2014). As Professor Jennifer Mnookin writes (in connection with Lassiter’s experiments): “When the interrogator isn’t shown on camera, jurors are significantly less likely to find an interrogation coercive, and more likely to believe in the truth and accuracy of the confession that they hear — even when the interrogator explicitly threatens the defendant.”

After the prosecution and defense rest their cases, the jury is left to deliberate. As the episode unfolds, we learn that the jury cannot come to an agreement on the verdict – specifically, one (or possibly more jurors) is having doubts about the confession and Hodda’s guilt. The case ends in a mistrial and thus no conviction is secured based on the confession offered.

One gets the sense that the show is intended to have viewers lament this result. After the trial, two jurors approach the mother of the murdered child to tell her that most of the jury members believed Hodda to be guilty. The juror who refused to convict was portrayed as being anti-police and uncooperative. What this suggests of course is that notwithstanding the problems with the confession and the lack of reliability surrounding it, the proper result was Hodda’s conviction. The failure to convict is attributed to a juror with a generalized anti-police bent. In addition, Hodda’s lawyer, we are told, is the daughter of a famous (fictional) trial lawyer who was still seeking the approval of her father - eleven years after his passing. The show constructs those who show support for Hodda (or question the methods used) as being suspect and motivated by less than legitimate concerns. 

That SVU travels down this road – e.g. vis-à-vis how it legitimizes improper interrogation techniques – is far from surprising. It is after all a show that is largely police-officer and prosecution friendly. As Dr. Adam Shniderman (2014, p.100) has written, SVU’s model of justice (like other Law and Order franchises) is one which focuses on speed, efficiency, and order-maintenance rather than the rights of suspects and accused who are presumably guilty. Shniderman (p.126) argues that conduct by SVU detectives on the show typically abuses defendants’ rights and are sometimes later vindicated at trial. However, and this is worth noting, he observes (p.126) that the tactics on display on SVU with respect to police interrogations also have led to false confessions in the real world. 

While it may be unclear as to what extent films and television shows influence viewers (and prospective jurors), studies suggest that the influence is real. Whether taken on its own, or as part of a pattern of legitimated conduct, the SVU episode discussed here problematically validates questionable police tactics and primes its viewers to find such methods defensible and necessary. Given the willingness of real world juries to convict when they hear a confession, projecting interrogation methods involving threats of violence is questionable. It fosters, at least among some members of the public, the notion that such means are acceptable.   

I end with two quotes by the United States Supreme Court in the 1991 case Arizona v Fulminante (p.296) which concerned a coerced confession. The quotes speak to the power of confessions at trial.  

A confession is like no other evidence. Indeed, the defendant's own confession is probably the most probative and damaging evidence that can be admitted against him. . . . [T]he admissions of a defendant come from the actor himself, the most knowledgeable and unimpeachable source of information about his past conduct. Certainly, confessions have profound impact on the jury, so much so that we may justifiably doubt its ability to put them out of mind even if told to do so.
In the case of a coerced confession...the risk that the confession is unreliable, coupled with the profound impact that the confession has upon the jury, requires a reviewing court to exercise extreme caution before determining that the admission of the confession at trial was harmless.


Arizona v Fulminante, 499 US 279 (1991). 

Jennifer L Mnookin, “Can a Jury Believe What It Sees? Videotaped Confessions Can Be Misleading” New York Times (13 July 2014), online:

Charles Ogletree Jr. & Austin Sarat, “Imaging Punishment: An Introduction” in Charles Ogletree Jr. & Austin Sarat, eds, Punishment in Popular Culture (New York: NYU Press, 2015) at 1-21.

R v Moore-McFarlane, (2001), 56 OR (3d) 737, 160 CCC (3d) 493 (ONCA).

Adam B Shniderman, “Ripped from the Headlines: Juror Perceptions in the Law & Order Era” (2014) 38 Law & Psych Rev 97.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Sounds of Society

Music – for many of us it plays an important role in our lives. We play it for festivities and for funerals. We find lyrics we can relate to and that speak to some of our innermost experiences and feelings. Years later, hearing a song can be extremely evocative of events, places, or people. Although it is created and performed by an artist or group of artists, we hear it and it becomes part of our lives and, in some cases, part of society. And yet what of the artists who give us this gift? How do they create a society that allows them to perform and express themselves?

Two recent films answer this question by chronicling different artists and musical genres. This Jurisculture post will discuss one film, Maestro, and the following post will discuss the other film, Song of Lahore. Maestro tells the story of master orchestra conductor Paavo Jarvi and, in the process, tells the story of orchestral society as a whole. Throughout the film, Maestro explores Jarvi’s personal history as the son of a world-renowned conductor from Estonia, who spent much of his youth in the Soviet Union due to his father’s work. As a child, Jarvi explains that he grew up listening to music and benefitted from the lessons his father gave to the family on music and on its importance in life and society.

This was emphasized to a younger Jarvi when his father refused to stop performing a song that the Soviet regime deemed subversive and was punished with quasi exile as a result. Despite this, his father continued to support such music and both he and young Jarvi understood the power of the music they performed as a source of motivation and support for social movements. Indeed, as was later demonstrated in Estonia’s “Singing Revolution” in which it broke free of Soviet control, music has the ability to reach across a number of social groups and create another society based on its lessons.

Following Jarvi’s path to the US after fleeing Soviet control, the film chronicles the rise of Jarvi as a young and talented conductor. It explores the Curtis Institute of Music, an elite school for highly talented musical artists, where another type of society is formed, this one of artists who have given their young lives to their art and to perfecting it. They create a common bond of dedication and love of music and their art in a way that might be difficult for the outside world to understand but that provides them with a sense of belonging and place. This, in turn, allows them to push themselves and to excel in order to create the music that comes to have such special meaning to society and to individuals the world over.

The idea of the experience of professional musicians as forming a society unto itself is further highlighted in Jarvi’s experience as the Artistic Director at the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Unlike other orchestras, in which the musicians are employees, at Bremen the musicians who comprise the orchestra are the owners. This increases the sense of investment and attachment that the musicians have at the same time that it increases the pressure on them to perform at their best and to bring in funding on a consistent basis. It is both a benefit and a burden on the musicians – and particularly on Jarvi as the leader of the orchestra. In this way, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen serves as a microcosm of the realities faced by individuals and society – each must perform at its best in order to succeed and also to survive. In doing this, a close-knit family unit is formed, with musicians and staff members who could receive somewhat better benefits elsewhere staying with a group of people who love and support them.

At the same time, the struggle to balance the reality of this world with the reality of a personal world is demonstrated by Jarvi’s own need to balance his professional world with his commitment to his two young daughters. Throughout the film, Jarvi discusses this in terms of the sacrifices he has made for his career and, as his children begin to grow up, the professional sacrifices he is willing to make so that he can be an involved part of their lives.

In Maestro, the audience experiences more than the story of music and the enjoyment of hearing beautiful performances by leading artists in the world. The film exposes the reality of the music that is enjoyed by millions across the world, from the study needed to become an elite musician to the way that a world-class orchestra functions to the struggle involved in balancing the personal and professional lives of musicians. By exposing these struggles, Maestro highlights the ways in which classical music, a genre that some view as out-dated, in fact reflects the realties and struggles of modern society in the lives of the musicians who perform it as much as in the emotions it conveys and evokes.

Maestro brings to light the many forms of society that form around music and why those societies are necessary in order to create music that reaches listeners across the world. Maestro further highlights the role that audiences have in creating yet another society, one in which music is a unifying theme in itself and can act as a facilitator for other movements.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Unity in Closing

After a week of record breaking and awe-inspiring competition, the 2016 Paralympic games closed on Sunday, September 18th with a festive and meaningful ceremony at the Maracana stadium. This ceremony demonstrated the importance of creating a global society of athletes that moves beyond stereotype and toward inclusion and unity in the construct of citizenship of sport.

Perhaps the most moving demonstration of this unity was the recognition and moment of silence dedicated to Iranian Paralympian Bahman Golbamezhad, who tragically died during the wheelchair road race the prior day.

In recognition of the many sensory abilities Paralympic athletes possess and rely on, the closing ceremony began with a display focusing on different aspects of sound and their interplay with generating other sensory abilities and experiences. This included the incorporation of Brazilian carnival music and heavy metal music as forms of expression that sounds generate. Sounds of all forms not only informed the audience’s experience but also were used as a background for disabled acrobats against which to frame their visually stunning performances.

Toward the end of the ceremony, the focus shifted to thanking volunteers and athletes alike for their participation. An essential aspect of this was the use of the epic Bob Marley song “One Love” as a frame for a changing photographic display demonstrating the many different races and ethnicities involved in the Paralympics. In this way, the ceremony highlighted the unity achieved through the Paralympic games and the Paralympic movement.

As is tradition, the closing ceremony featured a segment produced by the host city of the next Paralympic games, in this case Tokyo in 2020. The first Paralympic games were hosted by Tokyo in 1964 and the segment began with footage of those games. In addition to providing historical background, the footage narration explained that in 1964 there were few Japanese Paralympians and they were shocked at the ways in which other Paralympians were included in society because of the ways in which the disabled were viewed in Japan.

The narration went on to explain that, following the 1964 Paralympic games, access to the possibilities for including the disabled in society and athletics began to change in Japan and emerged as the present state of inclusion and success for the Japanese Paralympic team. Through this part of the segment, the impact of the Paralympics as a method of creating disabled communities at the international level and using lessons from these communities to change the ways that the disabled are treated at the national level were brought into sharp focus.

The second portion of the Tokyo closing ceremony segment focused on the ways in which the disabled are included in modern Japanese life, particularly in the arts. It featured disabled Japanese designers and performers who are seen as the embodiment of modern Japan and progress into the future. At the same time, the segment paralleled the beach scene used in the Rio opening ceremony to portray an urban setting in which those with different ranges of abilities come together and assist each other in moving forward toward progress.

Taken together, the Rio and Tokyo segments of the closing ceremony created a legacy of unity for the international community of Paralympians and for society overall. This reflects the ways in which the Paralympic games helped to make the world brighter for sports fans and non-sports fans alike.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Jurisculture Hits 100 posts - by Alexandra Harrington and Amar Khoday

We at Jurisculture have reached a milestone. This writing marks Jurisculture’s 100th post. On a (probably) cold New Year’s Day seven years ago this site was launched with our first post, “Envisioning Jurisculture”. In it, we shared our vision for what we wanted this site to be and represent. Back then we were two sprightly doctoral candidates at McGill University’s Faculty of Law pursuing our own research under the same supervisor – Dr. Frédéric Mégret.

Neither of our theses was directly connected to the interface of law and popular culture. Nevertheless, we were fascinated and struck by our mutual interest in the ways that forms of popular culture – films, television, music, literature, etc – connected to law to produce a popular and accessible jurisprudence. We created this site as a medium to explore this vibrant nexus. Of course, another way of looking at it was that watching movies and TV or listening to music provided a great tool for procrastination while writing about our reflections through blog postings gave it an intellectual legitimacy.  

Many years later, we’ve each produced dozens of blog postings while also managing to undertake our doctoral research, submit and successfully defend our respective theses. We’ve looked not only at how law is constructed and transmitted through popular culture but also (more recently) how the latter can serve as an important tool for legal education. We’ve looked at a range of topics and themes – Star Trek, American Idol, Sex and the City, reality shows, themes of resistance, ideas about equality, song lyrics, ballet, comedians, sport – to name several.  

In the coming years, we plan to keep posting and writing. In the next month or so, we plan to launch a Facebook page and Twitter feed to disseminate not only our writings, but also the work of others. We would like to take a moment to thank you – whether you have been a reader from the start or are just visiting Jurisculture for the first time. Without an audience to read our posts, follow us and share comments it would be far less exciting for us to find and share our ideas. We look forward to continue sharing our work with you.

Alexandra & Amar

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sorrow in Sports

There are some things that bring communities together in unique ways, and the death of a community member is certainly one of them. Several months ago, Jurisculture discussed the creation of communities of sorrow from horrific events that occur in one place but impact the world as a whole. This post discusses the ways in which sorrow brings together communities of Paralympians in a special way.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Bahman Golbarnezhad, Iranian Para-cyclist and two-time Paralypian, who died today following a crash during competition. Mr. Golbarnezhad was 48 years old at the time of his death and leaves behind a family in Shiraz, Iran.

Mr. Golbarnezhad’s death came whilecompeting in a road cycling event for those with injuries to lower limbs. While the circumstances are being investigated, it is known that he was involved in an accident on the descent of a hill on the road course and was brought to hospital, where he passed away of cardiac issues.

As the ultimately fatal accident came during the course of competition, many other competitors were unaware of it until after the race had ended. However, when Mr. Golbarnezhad’s death became known to his fellow competitors and to the larger Paralympic community, it caused reactions that demonstrated the power of sport to form a community that experienced sorrow together.

There were official statements of grief from the Iranian delegation and from the International Paralympic Committee, as expected, but also from national delegations. These national delegations included the United States, which still has some diplomatic tensions with Iran. These statements demonstrated that in the face of tragedy, the sporting community reaches well beyond the strictures and concerns of formal diplomatic wrangling.

This is particularly true of the Paralympic community, in which competitors have a deeper understanding of the sacrifices their competition has made for sport. Athletes who knew Mr. Golbarnezhad were obviously impacted by his death, as were those who had never met him. The athletes impacted were not only members of the cycling community but came from many other sports, all sharing the bond of the sports community and particularly of the Paralympic community.

During this time of competition and focus on success, the tragic death of Mr. Golbarnezhad has united the Paralympic community in sorrow, demonstrating the power of sports to forge a strong societal bond. In this way, Mr. Golbarnezhad’s legacy will extend far into the future.  

Friday, September 16, 2016

From Violence to Community

The celebration of sports and abilities that is encompassed by the Paralympics is truly uplifting and inspirational. In themselves, the Paralympic games represent the ability to use athletics as a means of international diplomacy through the creation of personal friendships that surpass nationality or citizenship. At the same time, the Paralympic games promote international diplomacy across boundaries and borders in the promotion of those with disabilities as part of society and indeed as key representatives of their states.

Beyond this, the Paralympic games offer the ability for those disabled by violence to assert their abilities as athletes and as members of a society of Paralympians that does not regard them as victims but rather as competitors and equals. Paralympians at the 2016 Rio games have disabilities from forms of violence that are as different as the sports they compete in.

For example, Brazil native Jovane Silva Guissone, a wheelchair fencer, suffered damage to his spine and legs when he was shot years ago in his own neighbourhood. Despite the impact of local violence, Guissone is a deeply proud Brazilian who has been eager to show off his country as well as his own skills. The results of violence in combat zones also have impacted the Paralympian community. There are many examples of this, such as powerlifter Micky Yule, a former British Royal Engineers staff sergeant wounded by an IED while serving in Afghanistan, and triathlon runner Melissa Stockwell, formerly a first lieutenant in the United States Army, who was similarly wounded in Iraq.

These are only a few of the Paralympians who have found their lives changed by violence and who have used sports to recreate themselves and give them continuity of identity. Their stories are heroic and many have used their status as Paralympians to bring attention to those similarly impacted by violence.

At the same time, the Paralympics allow those impacted by violence of any kind to develop an identity beyond the experience of conflict. It creates a different society in which there is a shared experience of competition and athletic pride. This is a very deep aspect of citizenship of sport, one that involves identity and inclusion.