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Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy x Jaar 2012 x
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Access_open The Collapse of the Rule of Law

The Messina Earthquake and the State of Exception

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 2 2012
Trefwoorden Messina, earthquake, state of exception, rule of law, progress
Auteurs Massimo La Torre
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Messina, a Sicilian town, was devasteted by an earthquake in1908. It was an hecatomb. Stricken through this unfathomable disgrace Messina’s institutions and civil society collapsed and a sort of wild natural state replaced the rule of law. In this situation there was a first intervention of the Russian Czarist navy who came to help but immediately enforced cruel emergency measures. The Italian army followed and there was a formal declaration of an ‘emergency situation.’ Around this event and the several exceptional measures taken by the government a debate took place about the legality of those exceptional measures. The article tries to reconstruct the historical context and the content of that debate and in a broader perspective thematizes how law (and morality) could be brought to meet the breaking of normality and ordinary life by an unexpected and catastrophic event.


Massimo La Torre
Massimo La Torre is Professor of Legal Philosophy at the University of Catanzaro in Italy and visiting Professor of Law at the University of Hull in England.
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