In The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, the International Criminal Court
tried the destruction of UNESCO World Heritage sites as a war crime for the
first time. In this case, the value of things in relation to the value of
persons became the central issue. Based on courtroom ethnography conducted
during the proceedings and informed by affect and emotion research, this
article identifies the rhetorical practice of sentimentalizing persons and
things as an important process of legal meaning-making. Through
sentimentalizing, all parties rhetorically produce normative arrangements of
bodies by way of emotionally differentiating the relevant persons, things, and
other entities from and affectively relating them to each other.
Sentimentalizing provides an affective-emotional frame in which to determine
the degree of guilt and innocence, justice and injustice.