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Abiding by Sri Lanka Cover

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Abiding by Sri Lanka

On Peace, Place, and Postcoloniality

Qadri Ismail

The lack of peace in Sri Lanka is commonly portrayed as a consequence of a violent, ethnonationalist conflict between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority. Viewed in this light, resolution could be attained through conflict management. But, as Qadri Ismail reveals, this is too simplistic an understanding and cannot produce lasting peace. 

Abiding by Sri Lanka examines how the disciplines of anthropology, history, and literature treat the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. Anthropology, Ismail contends, approaches Sri Lanka as an object from an “outside” and western point of view. History, addressing the conflict from the “inside,” abides by the place and so promotes change that is nationalist and exclusive. Neither of these fields imagines an inclusive community. Literature, Ismail argues, can. 

With close readings of texts that “abide” by Sri Lanka, texts that have a commitment to it, Ismail demonstrates that the problems in Sri Lanka raise fundamental concerns for us all regarding the relationship between democracies and minorities. Recognizing the structural as well as political tendencies of representative democracies to suppress minorities, Ismail rethinks democracy by redefining the concept of the minority perspective, not as a subject-position of numerical insignificance, but as a conceptual space that opens up the possibility for distinction without domination and, ultimately, peace. 

Qadri Ismail is associate professor of English at the University of Minnesota. He has also been a journalist in Sri Lanka.

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Abolition Of White Democracy

Joel Olson

Racial discrimination embodies inequality, exclusion, and injustice and as such has no place in a democratic society. And yet racial matters pervade nearly every aspect of American life, influencing where we live, what schools we attend, the friends we make, the votes we cast, the opportunities we enjoy, and even the television shows we watch.

Joel Olson contends that, given the history of slavery and segregation in the United States, American citizenship is a form of racial privilege in which whites are equal to each other but superior to everyone else. In Olson’s analysis we see how the tension in this equation produces a passive form of democracy that discourages extensive participation in politics because it treats citizenship as an identity to possess rather than as a source of empowerment. Olson traces this tension and its disenfranchising effects from the colonial era to our own, demonstrating how, after the civil rights movement, whiteness has become less a form of standing and more a norm that cements white advantages in the ordinary operations of modern society.

To break this pattern, Olson suggests an “abolitionist-democratic” political theory that makes the fight against racial discrimination a prerequisite for expanding democratic participation.

Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective Cover

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Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective

Cases and Controversies

Edited by Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman, and Bernard M. Dickens

It is increasingly implausible to speak of a purely domestic abortion law, as the legal debates around the world draw on precedents and influences of different national and regional contexts. While the United States and Western Europe may have been the vanguard of abortion law reform in the latter half of the twentieth century, Central and South America are proving to be laboratories of thought and innovation in the twenty-first century, as are particular countries in Africa and Asia. Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective offers a fresh look at significant transnational legal developments in recent years, examining key judicial decisions, constitutional texts, and regulatory reforms of abortion law in order to envision ways ahead.

The chapters investigate issues of access, rights, and justice, as well as social constructions of women, sexuality, and pregnancy, through different legal procedures and regimes. They address the promises and risks of using legal procedure to achieve reproductive justice from different national, regional, and international vantage points; how public and courtroom debates are framed within medical, religious, and human rights arguments; the meaning of different narratives that recur in abortion litigation and language; and how respect for women and prenatal life is expressed in various legal regimes. By exploring how legal actors advocate, regulate, and adjudicate the issue of abortion, this timely volume seeks to build on existing developments to bring about change of a larger order.

Contributors: Luis Roberto Barroso, Paola Bergallo, Rebecca J. Cook, Bernard M. Dickens, Joanna N. Erdman, Lisa M. Kelly, Adriana Lamačková, Julieta Lemaitre, Alejandro Madrazo, Charles G. Ngwena, Rachel Rebouché, Ruth Rubio-Marín, Sally Sheldon, Reva B. Siegel, Verónica Undurraga, Melissa Upreti.

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Accounting for Violence

Marketing Memory in Latin America

Edited by Ksenija Bilbija and Leigh Payne

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Accumulating Insecurity

Violence and Dispossession in the Making of Everyday Life

Shelley Feldman

Accumulating Insecurity examines the relationship between two vitally important contemporary phenomena: a fixation on security that justifies global military engagements and the militarization of civilian life, and the dramatic increase in day-to-day insecurity associated with contemporary crises in health care, housing, incarceration, personal debt, and unemployment.

Contributors to the volume explore how violence is used to maintain conditions for accumulating capital. Across world regions violence is manifested in the increasingly strained, often terrifying, circumstances in which people struggle to socially reproduce themselves. Security is often sought through armaments and containment, which can lead to the impoverishment rather than the nourishment of laboring bodies. Under increasingly precarious conditions, governments oversee the movements of people, rather than scrutinize and regulate the highly volatile movements of capital. They often do so through practices that condone dispossession in the name of economic and political security.

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Administration of Aesthetics

Censorship, Political Criticism, and the Public Sphere

Richard Burt

The “new” censorship of the arts, some cultural critics say, is just one more item on the “new” Right's agenda, and is part and parcel of attempts to regulate sexuality, curtail female reproductive rights, deny civil rights to gays and lesbians, and privatize public institutions.  Although they do not contest this assessment, the writers gathered here expose crucial difficulties in using censorship, old and new, as a tool for cultural criticism. 

Focusing on historical moments ranging from early modern Europe to the postmodern United States, and covering a variety of media from books and paintings to film and photography, their essays seek a deeper understanding of what “censorship,” “criticism,” and the “public sphere” really mean.

Getting rid of the censor, the contributors suggest, does not eliminate the problem of censorship.  In varied but complementary ways, they view censorship as something more than a negative, unified institutional practice used to repress certain discourses.  Instead, the authors contend that censorship actually legitimates discourses-not only by allowing them to circulate but by staging their circulation as performances through which “good” and “bad” discourses are differentiated and opposed.

These essays move discussions of censorship out of the present discourse of diversity into what might be called a discourse of legitimation.  In doing so, they open up the possibility of realignments between those who are disenchanted with both stereotypical right-wing criticisms of political critics and aesthetics and stereotypical left-wing defenses.

Contributors: Richard Burt, Stuart Culver, Donald Hedrick, Christian Jouhaud, Michael G. Levine, Timothy Murray, Aamir Mufti, David Norbrook, Dennis Porter, Brook Thomas, Jirina Smejkalová-Strickland, Jeffrey Wallen, and Rob Wilson.

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Advancing the Rule of Law Abroad

Next Generation Reform

Rachel Kleinfeld

In the modern era, political leaders and scholars have declared the rule of law to be essential to democracy, a necessity for economic growth, and a crucial tool in the fight for security at home and stability abroad. The United States has spent billions attempting to catalyze rule-of-law improvements within other countries. Yet despite the importance of the goal to core foreign policy needs, and the hard work of hundreds of practitioners on the ground, the track record of successful rule-of-law promotion has been paltry.

In Advancing the Rule of Law Abroad, Rachel Kleinfeld describes the history and current state of reform efforts and the growing movement of second-generation reformers who view the rule of law not as a collection of institutions and laws that can be built by outsiders, but as a relationship between the state and society that must be shaped by those inside the country for lasting change. Based on research in countries from Indonesia to Albania, Kleinfeld makes a compelling case for new methods of reform that can have greater chances of success.

This book offers a comprehensive overview of this growing area of policy action where diplomacy and aid meet the domestic policies of other states. Its insights into the practical methods and moral complexities of supporting reform within other countries will be useful to practitioners and students alike.

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Advocating Dignity

Human Rights Mobilizations in Global Politics

By Jean H. Quataert

In Advocating Dignity, Jean H. Quataert explores the emergence, development, and impact of the human rights revolution following World War II. Intertwining popular local and national mobilizations for rights with ongoing developments of a formal international system of rights monitoring in the United Nations, Quataert argues that human rights advocacy networks have been a vital dimension of international political developments since 1945. Recalling the popular slogan "Think globally, act locally," she contends that postwar human rights have been shaped by the efforts of people at the grassroots. She shows that human rights politics are constituted locally and reinforced by transnational linkages in international society. The U.N. system is continuously reinvigorated and strengthened by its ties to local individuals, organizations, and groups engaged in day-to-day rights advocacy. This daily work, in turn, is supported by the ongoing activities from above.

Quataert establishes the global contexts for the historical unfolding of human rights advocacy through thorough studies of such cases as the Soviet dissident movement, the mothers' demonstrations in Argentina, the transnational antiapartheid campaign, and coalitions for gender and economic justice. Drawing from many fields of inquiry, including legal studies, philosophy, international relations theory, political science, and gender history, Advocating Dignity is an innovative work that narrates the hopes and bitter struggles that have altered the course of international and domestic relations over the past sixty years.

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Affirmative Action in Antidiscrimination Law and Policy

An Overview and Synthesis, Second Edition

Provides a comprehensive and even-handed overview of the very contentious subject of affirmative action. Racism, sexism, and ethnic discrimination have long represented a seemingly intractable problem. Affirmative action was conceived as an attack on these ingrained problems, but today it is widely misunderstood. This volume reviews new developments in affirmative action law, policy, and ideological conflict in the areas of employment, education, voting, and housing. The revised edition adds a discussion of age, disability, and sexual-orientation discrimination, providing a truly comprehensive portrait of affirmative action that is informed by history, law, political science, sociology, and economics.

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Africa’s Deadliest Conflict

Media Coverage of the Humanitarian Disaster in the Congo and the United Nations Response, 1997–2008

Africa’s Deadliest Conflict deals with the complex intersection of the legacy of post-colonial history—a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions—and changing norms of international intervention associated with the idea of human security and the responsibility to protect (R2P). It attempts to explain why, despite a softening of norms related to the sanctity of state sovereignty, the international community dealt so ineffectively with a brutal conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which between 1997 and 2011 claimed an estimated 5.5 million. In particular, the book focuses on the role of mass media in creating a will to intervene, a role considered by many to be the key to prodding a reluctant international community to action.

Included in the book are a primer on Congolese history, a review of United Nations peacekeeping missions in the Congo, and a detailed examination of both US television news and New York Times coverage of the Congo from 1997 through 2008. Separate conclusions are offered with respect to peacekeeping in the Age of R2P and on the role of mass media in both promoting and inhibiting robust international responses to large-scale humanitarian crises.

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