University of Michigan Press

Law, Meaning, and Violence

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Law, Meaning, and Violence

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The Powers that Punish

Prison and Politics in the Era of the "Big House", 1920-1955

Charles Bright

In a pathbreaking study of a major state prison, Michigan's Jackson State Penitentiary during the middle years of this century, Charles Bright addresses several aspects of the history and theory of punishment. The study is an institutional history of an American penitentiary, concerned with how a carceral regime was organized and maintained, how prisoners were treated and involved in the creation of a regime of order and how penal practices were explained and defended in public. In addition, it is a meditation upon punishment in modern society and a critical engagement with prevailing theories of punishment coming out of liberal, Marxist and post structuralist traditions. Deploying theory critically in a historic narrative, it applies new, relational theories of power to political institutions and practices. Finally, in studying the history of the Jackson prison, Bright provides a rich account, full of villains and a few heroes, of state politics in Michigan during a period of rapid transition between the 1920s to the 1950s. The book will be of direct relevance to criminologists and scholars of punishment, and to historians concerned with the history of punishment and prisons in the United States. It will also be useful to political scientists and historians concerned with exploring new approaches to the study of power and with the transformation of state politics in the 1930s and 1940s. Finally Bright tells a story which will fascinate students of modern Michigan history. Charles Bright is a historian and Lecturer at the Residential College of the University of Michigan.

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Punishing Schools

Fear and Citizenship in American Public Education

William Lyons and Julie Drew

In a society increasingly dominated by zero-tolerance thinking, Punishing Schools argues that our educational system has become both the subject of legislative punishment and an instrument for the punishment of children. William Lyons and Julie Drew analyze the connections between state sanctions against our schools (the diversion of funding to charter schools, imposition of unfunded mandates, and enforcement of dubious forms of teacher accountability) and the schools' own infliction of punitive measures on their students-a vicious cycle that creates fear and encourages the development of passive and dependent citizens. "Public schools in the United States are no longer viewed as a public good. On the contrary, they are increasingly modeled after prisons, and students similarly have come to mirror the suspicions and fears attributed to prisoners. Punishing Schools is one of the most insightful, thoughtful, and liberating books I have read on what it means to understand, critically engage, and transform the present status and state of schools from objects of fear and disdain to institutions that value young people, teachers, and administrators as part of a broader vision of social justice, freedom, and equality. William Lyons and Julie Drew have done their homework and provide all the necessary elements for understanding and defending schools as public spheres that are foundational to a democracy. This book should be required reading for every student, teacher, parent, and concerned citizen in the United States. In the end, this book is not just about saving schools, it is also about saving democracy and offering young people a future that matters." --Henry Giroux, McMaster University "This is an important book . . . a distinctive contribution. The authors move back and forth convincingly between the micropolitics of school discipline and the 'politics writ large' of the liberal left and the utopian right. The result is an expansive, idealistic, and well-grounded book in the spirit of the very best of social control literature." --Stuart Scheingold, Professor Emeritus, Political Science, University of Washington William Lyons is Director of Center for Conflict Management and Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Akron. Julie Drew is Associate Professor of English, University of Akron.

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Punishment and Political Order

Keally McBride

Most of us think of punishment as an ugly display of power. But punishment also tells us something about the ideals and aspirations of a people and their government. How a state punishes reveals whether or not it is confident in its own legitimacy and sovereignty. Punishment and Political Order examines the questions raised by the state’s exercise of punitive power—from what it is about human psychology that desires sanction and order to how the state can administer pain while calling for justice. Keally McBride's book demonstrates punishment's place at the core of political administration and the stated ideals of the polity. "From start to finish this is a terrific, engaging book. McBride offers a fascinating perspective on punishment, calling attention to its utility in understanding political regimes and their ideals. She succeeds in reminding us of the centrality of punishment in political theory and, at the same time, in providing a framework for understanding contemporary events. I know of no other book that does as much to make the subject of punishment so compelling." —Austin Sarat, Amherst College "Punishment and Political Order will be welcome reading for anyone interested in understanding law in society, punishment and political spectacle, or governing through crime control. This is a clear, accessible, and persuasive examination of punishment—as rhetoric and reality. Arguing that punishment is a complex product of the social contract, this book demonstrates the ways in which understanding the symbolic power and violence of the law provides analytical tools for examining the ideological function of prison labor today, as well as the crosscutting and contingent connections between language and identity, legitimation and violence, sovereignty and agency more generally." —Bill Lyons, Director, Center for Conflict Management, University of Akron "Philosophical explorations of punishment have often stopped with a theory of responsibility. McBride's book moves well beyond this. It shows that the problem of punishment is a central issue for any coherent theory of the state, and thus that punishment is at the heart of political theory. This is a stunning achievement." —Malcolm M. Feeley, University of California at Berkeley Keally McBride is Assistant Professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco.

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Russia's Legal Fictions

Harriet Murav

Legal scholars and literary critics have shown the significance of storytelling, not only as part of the courtroom procedure, but as part of the very foundation of law. Russia's Legal Fictions examines the relationship between law, narrative and authority in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russia. The conflict between the Russian writer and the law is a well-known feature of Russian literary life in the past two centuries. With one exception, the authors discussed in this book--Sukhovo-Kobylin, Akhsharumov, Suvorin, and Dostoevsky in the nineteenth century and Solzhenitsyn and Siniavskii in the twentieth--were all put on trial. In Russia's Legal Fictions, Harriet Murav starts with the authors' own writings about their experience with law and explores the history of these Russian literary trials, including censorship, libel cases, and one case of murder, in their specific historical context, showing how particular aspects of the culture of the time relate to the case. The book explores the specifically Russian literary and political conditions in which writers claim the authority not only as the authors of fiction but as lawgivers in the realm of the real, and in which the government turns to the realm of the literary to exercise its power. The author uses specific aspects of Russian culture, history and literature to consider broader theoretical questions about the relationship between law, narrative, and authority. Murav offers a history of the reception of the jury trial and the development of a professional bar in late Imperial Russia as well as an exploration of theories of criminality, sexuality, punishment, and rehabilitation in Imperial and Soviet Russia. This book will be of interest to scholars of law and literature and Russian law, history and culture. Harriet Murav is Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature, University of California at Davis.

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Sacred Violence

Torture, Terror, and Sovereignty

Paul W. Kahn

In Sacred Violence, the distinguished political and legal theorist Paul W. Kahn investigates the reasons for the resort to violence characteristic of premodern states. In a startling argument, he contends that law will never offer an adequate account of political violence. Instead, we must turn to political theology, which reveals that torture and terror are, essentially, forms of sacrifice. Kahn forces us to acknowledge what we don't want to see: that we remain deeply committed to a violent politics beyond law. Paul W. Kahn is Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities at Yale Law School and Director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights. Cover Illustration: "Abu Ghraib 67, 2005" by Fernando Botero. Courtesy of the artist and the American University Museum.

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Strangers to the Law

Gay People on Trial

Lisa Keen and Suzanne B. Goldberg

In 1992, the voters of Colorado passed a ballot initiative amending the state constitution to prevent the state or any local government from adopting any law or policy that protected a person with a homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation from discrimination. This amendment was immediately challenged in the courts as a denial of equal protection of the laws under the United States Constitution. This litigation ultimately led to a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court invalidating the Colorado ballot initiative. Suzanne Goldberg, an attorney involved in the case from the beginning on behalf of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Lisa Keen, a journalist who covered the initiative campaign and litigation, tell the story of this case, providing an inside view of this complex and important litigation. Starting with the background of the initiative, the authors tell us about the debates over strategy, the court proceedings, and the impact of each stage of the litigation on the parties involved. The authors explore the meaning of legal protection for gay people and the arguments for and against the Colorado initiative. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the development of civil rights protections for gay people and the evolution of what it means to be gay in contemporary American society and politics. In addition, it is a rich story well told, and will be of interest to the general reader and scholars working on issues of civil rights, majority-minority relations, and the meaning of equal rights in a democratic society. Suzanne Goldberg is an attorney with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. Lisa Keen is Senior Editor at the Washington Blade newspaper.

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Suing the Gun Industry

A Battle at the Crossroads of Gun Control and Mass Torts

Timothy D. Lytton

Mass tort litigation against the gun industry, with its practical weaknesses, successes, and goals, provides the framework for this collection of thoughtful essays by leading social scientists, lawyers, and academics. . . . These informed analyses reveal the complexities that make the debate so difficult to resolve. . . . Suing the Gun Industry masterfully reveals the many details contributing to the intractability of the gun debate. -New York Law Journal "Second Amendment advocate or gun-control fanatic, all Americans who care about freedom need to read Suing the Gun Industry." -Bob Barr, Member of Congress, 1995-2003, and Twenty-First Century Liberties Chair for Freedom and Privacy, American Conservative Union "The source for anyone interested in a balanced analysis of the lawsuits against the gun industry." -David Hemenway, Professor of Health Policy & Director, Harvard Injury Control Research Center Harvard School of Public Health Health Policy and Management Department, author of Private Guns, Public Health "Highly readable, comprehensive, well-balanced. It contains everything you need to know, and on all sides, about the wave of lawsuits against U.S. gun manufacturers." -James B. Jacobs, Warren E. Burger Professor of Law and author of Can Gun Control Work? "In Suing the Gun Industry, Timothy Lytton has assembled some of the leading scholars and advocates, both pro and con, to analyze this fascinating effort to circumvent the well-known political obstacles to more effective gun control. This fine book offers a briefing on both the substance and the legal process of this wave of lawsuits, together with a better understanding of the future prospects for this type of litigation vis-à-vis other industries." -Philip J. Cook, Duke University "An interesting collection, generally representing the center of the gun-control debate, with considerable variation in focus, objectivity, and political realism." -Paul Blackman, retired pro-gun criminologist and advocate Gun litigation deserves a closer look amid the lessons learned from decades of legal action against the makers of asbestos, Agent Orange, silicone breast implants, and tobacco products, among others. Suing the Gun Industry collects the diverse and often conflicting opinions of an outstanding cast of specialists in law, public health, public policy, and criminology and distills them into a complete picture of the intricacies of gun litigation and its repercussions for gun control. Using multiple perspectives, Suing the Gun Industry scrutinizes legal action against the gun industry. Such a broad approach highlights the role of this litigation within two larger controversies: one over government efforts to reduce gun violence, and the other over the use of mass torts to regulate unpopular industries. Readers will find Suing the Gun Industry a timely and accessible picture of these complex and controversial issues. Contributors: Tom Baker Donald Braman Brannon P. Denning Tom Diaz Howard M. Erichson Thomas O. Farrish Shannon Frattaroli John Gastil Dan M. Kahan Don B. Kates Timothy D. Lytton Julie Samia Mair Richard A. Nagareda Peter H. Schuck Stephen D. Sugarman Stephen Teret Wendy Wagner

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Transformative Justice

Israeli Identity on Trial

Leora Bilsky

Can Israel be both Jewish and democratic? Transformative Justice, Leora Bilsky's landmark study of Israeli political trials, poses this deceptively simple question. The four trials that she analyzes focus on identity, the nature of pluralism, human rights, and the rule of law-issues whose importance extends far beyond Israel's borders. Drawing on the latest work in philosophy, law, history, and rhetoric, Bilsky exposes the many narratives that compete in a political trial and demonstrates how Israel's history of social and ideological conflicts in the courtroom offers us a rare opportunity to understand the meaning of political trials. The result is a bold new perspective on the politics of justice and its complex relationship to the values of liberalism. Leora Bilsky is Professor of Law, Tel Aviv University.

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Unleashing Rights

Law, Meaning, and the Animal Rights Movement

Helena Silverstein

Unleashing Rights is a study of the animal rights movement's efforts to advance social reform through the deployment of legal language and practices. The study looks at how prevailing understandings of rights language have shaped the attempt to put forth the idea that animals have rights, and how this attempt, in turn, offers the opportunity to reconstruct the meaning of rights. The book also examines the way litigation has influenced the movement's activities and opportunities for success. Presented here is an investigation of the legal system through a decentered, cultural approach. Legal languages and practices are viewed as a part of everyday life--constructed, used, and interpreted not only by those who run official legal institutions but also by everyday people with a legal consciousness. Using this approach, the book questions whether the deployment of rights and litigation by animal rights advocates has challenged prevailing legal meaning. Looking to both the constitutive and instrumental aspects of law, and to how each informs the other, Unleashing Rights finds that the resort to rights and litigation has advanced movement goals and contributed to alternative constructions of legal meaning. The study concludes that despite their many constraints, both rights talk and litigation are powerful resources for those who seek change, especially when used by strategically minded activists. Unleashing Rights is a book that illustrates the relationship between law, social movement activism, and social change. The book joins the ongoing debate within public law scholarship that is concerned with the effectiveness of legal strategies and languages. The book also speaks to those interested in the general study of social movements and in the particular study of the animal rights movement. With its cultural approach focused on rights language and the construction of meaning, the work will be of interest to the disciplines of law and political science, as well as those who study sociology, anthropology, and philosophy. Helena Silverstein is F. M. Kirby Assistant Professor of Government and Law, Lafayette College.

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Whispered Consolations

Law and Narrative in African American Life

Jon-Christian Suggs

African Americans have experienced life under the rule of law in quite different contexts from those of whites, and they have written about those differences in poems, songs, stories, autobiographies, novels, and memoirs. This book examines the tradition of American law as it appears in African American literary life, from pre-Revolutionary murder trials to gangsta rap. The experience, and the critique it produces, changes our pictures of both American law and African American literature. This study reads the already canonical works of nineteenth- and twentieth-century black literature in the context of their responses to and critiques of American legal history. At the same time, it examines little known texts of African American life, from the urban humor of James D. Corrothers, through the early political essays of Chester Himes, to the adventures of black comic book heroes like Steel, Wise Son, and Xero. These are contextualized within specific legislation and case law, from the slave laws of early Virginia to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, from the case of Phillis and Mark in 1755 to the Simpson trials of the mid 1990s. Finally, the legal texts presented are themselves critiqued by the fictions and legal analyses of the African Americans who lived out their implications in their daily lives. Through a positing of the legal and cultural concepts of privacy, property, identity, desire and citizenship, and the romantic ideals of authenticity, irony, and innocence, Suggs is able to show how our understanding of American law should be influenced by African American conceptions of it as depicted through literature. This book will appeal to students and scholars of literary and cultural studies, law and literature, American history, as well as to scholars of African American literature and culture. Jon-Christian Suggs is Professor of English, John Jay College, City University of New York.

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