University of Michigan Press

Law, Meaning, and Violence

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Law, Meaning, and Violence

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Among the Lowest of the Dead

The Culture of Capital Punishment

David Von Drehle

Thorough and unbiased, Among the Lowest of the Dead is a gripping narrative that provides an unprecedented journalistic look into the actual workings of the capital punishment system. "Has all the tension of the best true crime stories . . . This is journalism at its best." --Library Journal "A compelling argument against capital punishment. . . . Examining politicians, judges (including Supreme Court Justices), prosecutors, defense attorneys and the condemned themselves, the author makes an effective case that, despite new laws, execution is no less a lottery than it has always been." --Publishers Weekly "In a fine and important book, Von Drehle writes elegantly and powerfully. . . . Anyone certain of their opinion about the death penalty ought to read this book." -- Booklist "An extremely well-informed and richly insightful book of great value to students of the death penalty as well as intelligent general readers with a serious interest in the subject, Among the Lowest of the Dead is also exciting reading. The book is an ideal guide for new generations of readers who want to form knowledgeable judgments in the continuing--and recently accelerating--controversies about capital punishment." --Anthony Amsterdam, New York University "Among the Lowest of the Dead is a powerfully written and meticulously researched book that makes an invaluable contribution to the growing public dialogue about capital punishment in America. It's one of those rare books that bridges the gap between mass audiences and scholarly disciplines, the latter including sociology, political science, criminology and journalism. The book is required reading in my Investigative Journalism classes--and my students love it!" --David Protess, Northwestern University "Among The Lowest of the Dead deserves a permanent place in the literature as literature, and is most relevant to today's death penalty debate as we moderate advocates and abolitionists search for common ground." --Robert Blecker, New York Law School David Von Drehle is Senior Writer, The Washington Post and author of Triangle: The Fire that Changed America.

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Bad Boys

Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity

Ann Arnett Ferguson

Statistics show that black males are disproportionately getting in trouble and being suspended from the nation's school systems. Based on three years of participant observation research at an elementary school, Bad Boys offers a richly textured account of daily interactions between teachers and students to understand this serious problem. Ann Arnett Ferguson demonstrates how a group of eleven- and twelve-year-old males are identified by school personnel as "bound for jail" and how the youth construct a sense of self under such adverse circumstances. The author focuses on the perspective and voices of pre-adolescent African American boys. How does it feel to be labeled "unsalvageable" by your teacher? How does one endure school when the educators predict one's future as "a jail cell with your name on it?" Through interviews and participation with these youth in classrooms, playgrounds, movie theaters, and video arcades, the author explores what "getting into trouble" means for the boys themselves. She argues that rather than simply internalizing these labels, the boys look critically at schooling as they dispute and evaluate the meaning and motivation behind the labels that have been attached to them. Supplementing the perspectives of the boys with interviews with teachers, principals, truant officers, and relatives of the students, the author constructs a disturbing picture of how educators' beliefs in a "natural difference" of black children and the "criminal inclination" of black males shapes decisions that disproportionately single out black males as being "at risk" for failure and punishment. Bad Boys is a powerful challenge to prevailing views on the problem of black males in our schools today. It will be of interest to educators, parents, and youth, and to all professionals and students in the fields of African-American studies, childhood studies, gender studies, juvenile studies, social work, and sociology, as well as anyone who is concerned about the way our schools are shaping the next generation of African American boys. Anne Arnett Ferguson is Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies and Women's Studies, Smith College.

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Butterfly, the Bride

Essays on Law, Narrative, and the Family

Carol Weisbrod

Carol Weisbrod uses a variety of stories to raise important questions about how society, through law, defines relationships in the family. Beginning with a story most familiar from the opera Madame Butterfly, Weisbrod addresses issues such as marriage, divorce, parent-child relations and abuses, and non-marital intimate contact. Each chapter works with fiction or narratives inspired by biography or myth, ranging from the Book of Esther to the stories of Kafka. Weisbrod frames the book with running commentary on variations of the Madame Butterfly story, showing the ways in which fiction better expresses the complexities of intimate lives than does the language of the law. Butterfly, the Bride looks at law from the outside, using narrative to provide a fresh perspective on the issues of law and social structure---and individual responses to law. This book thoroughly explores relationships between inner and public lives by examining what is ordinarily classified as the sphere of private life---the world of family relationships. Carol Weisbrod is Ellen Ash Peters Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut. Her other books include The Boundaries of Utopia and Emblems of Pluralism.

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Communities and Law

Politics and Cultures of Legal Identities

Gad Barzilai

Communities and Law looks at minorities, or nonruling communities, and their identity practices under state domination in the midst of globalization. It examines six sociopolitical dimensions of community--nationality, social stratification, gender, religion, ethnicity, and legal consciousness--within the communitarian context and through their respective legal cultures. Gad Barzilai addresses such questions as: What is a communal legal culture, and what is its relevance for relations between state and society in the midst of globalization? How do nonliberal communal legal cultures interact with transnational American-led liberalism? Is current liberalism, with its emphasis on individual rights, litigation, and adjudication, sufficient to protect pluralism and multiculturalism? Why should democracies encourage the collective rights of nonruling communities and protect nonliberal communal cultures in principle and in practice? He looks at Arab-Palestinians, feminists, and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel as examples of the types of communities discussed. Communities and Law contributes to our understanding of the severe tensions between democracies, on the one hand, and the challenge of their minority communities, on the other, and suggests a path toward resolving the resulting critical issues. Gad Barzilai is Professor of Political Science and Law and Co-Director of the Law, Politics and Society Program, Department of Political Science, Tel Aviv University.

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Curating Community

Museums, Constitutionalism, and the Taming of the Political

Stacy Douglas

In Curating Community: Museums, Constitutionalism, and the Taming of the Political, Stacy Douglas challenges the centrality of sovereignty in our political and juridical imaginations. Creatively bringing together constitutional, political, and aesthetic theory, Douglas argues that museums and constitutions invite visitors to identify with a prescribed set of political constituencies based on national, ethnic, or anthropocentric premises. In both cases, these stable categories gloss over the radical messiness of the world and ask us to conflate representation with democracy. Yet the museum, when paired with the constitution, can also serve as a resource in the production of alternative imaginations of community. Consequently, Douglas’s key contribution is the articulation of a theory of counter-monumental constitutionalism, using the museum, that seeks to move beyond individual and collective forms of sovereignty that have dominated postcolonial and postapartheid theories of law and commemoration. She insists on the need to reconsider deep questions about how we conceptualize the limits of ourselves, as well as our political communities, in order to attend to everyday questions of justice in the courtroom, the museum, and beyond.
Curating Community is a book for academics, artists, curators, and constitutional designers interested in legacies of violence, transitional justice, and democracy.

 

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Dying Inside

The HIV/AIDS Ward at Limestone Prison

Benjamin Fleury-Steiner

The HIV+ men incarcerated in Limestone Prison's Dorm 16 were put there to be forgotten. Not only do Benjamin Fleury-Steiner and Carla Crowder bring these men to life, Fleury-Steiner and Crowder also insist on placing these men in the middle of critical conversations about health policy, mass incarceration, and race. Dense with firsthand accounts, Dying Inside is a nimble, far-ranging and unblinking look at the cruelty inherent in our current penal policies. ---Lisa Kung, Director, Southern Center for Human Rights "The looming prison health crisis, documented here at its extreme, is a shocking stain on American values and a clear opportunity to rethink our carceral approach to security." ---Jonathan Simon, University of California, Berkeley "Dying Inside is a riveting account of a health crisis in a hidden prison facility." ---Michael Musheno, San Francisco State University, and coauthor of Deployed "This fresh and original study should prick all of our consciences about the horrific consequences of the massive carceral state the United States has built over the last three decades." ---Marie Gottschalk, University of Pennsylvania, and author of The Prison and the Gallows "An important, bold, and humanitarian book." ---Alison Liebling, University of Cambridge "Fleury-Steiner makes a compelling case that inmate health care in America's prisons and jails has reached the point of catastrophe." ---Sharon Dolovich, University of California, Los Angeles "Fleury-Steiner's persuasive argument not only exposes the sins of commission and omission on prison cellblocks, but also does an excellent job of showing how these problems are the natural result of our nation's shortsighted and punitive criminal justice policy." ---Allen Hornblum, Temple University, and author of Sentenced to Science Dying Inside brings the reader face-to-face with the nightmarish conditions inside Limestone Prison's Dorm 16---the segregated HIV ward. Here, patients chained to beds share their space with insects and vermin in the filthy, drafty rooms, and contagious diseases spread like wildfire through a population with untreated---or poorly managed at best---HIV. While Dorm 16 is a particularly horrific human rights tragedy, it is also a symptom of a disease afflicting the entire U.S. prison system. In recent decades, prison populations have exploded as Americans made mass incarceration the solution to crime, drugs, and other social problems even as privatization of prison services, especially health care, resulted in an overcrowded, underfunded system in which the most marginalized members of our society slowly wither from what the author calls "lethal abandonment." This eye-opening account of one prison's failed health-care standards is a wake-up call, asking us to examine how we treat our forgotten citizens and compelling us to rethink the American prison system in this increasingly punitive age.

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The First Global Prosecutor

Promise and Constraints

Martha Minow, C. Cora True-Frost, and Alex Whiting, editors

The establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) gave rise to the first permanent Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), with independent powers of investigation and prosecution. Elected in 2003 for a nine-year term as the ICC’s first Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo established policies and practices for when and how to investigate, when to pursue prosecution, and how to obtain the cooperation of sovereign nations. He laid a foundation for the OTP’s involvement with the United Nations Security Council, state parties, nongovernmental organizations, victims, the accused, witnesses, and the media.

This volume of essays presents the first sustained examination of this unique office and offers a rare look into international justice. The contributors, ranging from legal scholars to practitioners of international law, explore the spectrum of options available to the OTP, the particular choices Moreno Ocampo made, and issues ripe for consideration as his successor, Fatou B. Bensouda, assumes her duties. The beginning of Bensouda’s term thus offers the perfect opportunity to examine the first Prosecutor’s singular efforts to strengthen international justice, in all its facets.

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From Noose to Needle

Capital Punishment and the Late Liberal State

Timothy V. Kaufman-Osborn

From Noose to Needle contributes a new perspective on the controversial topic of capital punishment by asking how the conduct of state killing reveals broader contradictions in the contemporary liberal state, especially, but not exclusively, in the United States. Moving beyond more familiar legal and sociological approaches to this matter, Timothy V. Kaufman-Osborn asks several questions. Why do executions no longer take the form of public spectacles? Why are certain methods of execution considered barbaric? Why must the liberal state strictly segregate the imposition of a death sentence, whether by judge or jury, from its actual infliction, whether by a state official or an ordinary citizen? Why are women so infrequently sentenced to death and executed? How does the state seek to hide the suffering inflicted by capital punishment through its endorsement of a bio-medical conception of pain? How does the nearly-universal shift to lethal injection pose problems for the late liberal state by confusing its punitive and welfare responsibilities? Drawing on a wide range of theoretical sources, including John Locke, Max Weber, Nicos Poulantzas, Friedrich Nietzsche, J. L. Austin, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Pierre Bourdieu, Elaine Scarry, and others, Kaufman-Osborn grounds his appropriation of these authors in analyses of specific recent executions, including that of Wesley Allan Dodd and Charles Campbell in Washington, Karla Faye Tucker in Texas, and Allen Lee Davis in Florida. From Noose to Needle will be of interest to students of law, political theory, and sociology as well as more general readers interested in the troublesome issue of capital punishment. Timothy V. Kaufman-Osborn is Baker Ferguson Professor of Politics and Leadership, Whitman College.

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Hybrid Justice

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

John D. Ciorciari and Anne Heindel

Since 2006, the United Nations and Cambodian Government have participated in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a hybrid tribunal created to try key Khmer Rouge officials for crimes of the Pol Pot era. In Hybrid Justice, John D. Ciorciari and Anne Heindel examine the contentious politics behind the tribunal’s creation, its flawed legal and institutional design, and the frequent politicized impasses that have undermined its ability to deliver credible and efficient justice and leave a positive legacy. They also draw lessons and principles for future hybrid and international courts and proceedings.

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