Law punishes violence, yet law depends on violence. In this book, a group of leading interdisciplinary legal scholars seeks to map the inexorable but unstable relationship of law to violence. What does it mean to talk about the violence of law? Do high incarceration rates and increased reliance on capital punishment indicate that U.S. law is growing more violent at a time when violence is being restrained in other legal systems? How is the violence of law represented in popular culture and does this affect law's actual legitimacy? Does violence express or distort the essence of law? Does law's violence serve justice?
In deeply original essays, the authors build on the seminal work of Robert Cover--one of the few legal scholars ever to consider the question of law and violence. In striving to situate his insights within current political, social, economic, and cultural contexts, they contemplate diverse and interrelated subjects surrounding the theme of law and violence. Among these are the purpose of law as punishment, the increasing number of executions in the United States, prison violence, racial disparity in sentencing, and the meaning of torture. The result is a remarkable volume that stimulates us to reconsider connections that we too often leave unexplored. In addition to the editor, the contributors are Marianne Constable, Peter Fitzpatrick, Thomas R. Kearns, Peter Rush, Jonathan Simon, Shaun McVeigh, and Alison Young.
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"This volume performs an important function. It is an extremely worthwhile and timely project that raises issues of grave concern to anyone interested in the realities of legal practice, including sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers, political scientists, legal theorists, and practicing lawyers."--Eve Darian-Smith, University of California, Santa Barbara
"These elegant critical reflections on violence and law--mostly in the United States--focus on the paradoxes of violence as an object and means of the law's control, as well as place of violence among the conditions and complications of law's legitimacy and efficacy. The collection is compelling, even haunting, and profoundly enriching. The volume illuminates contemporary debates about law's violence, and makes engaging reading for academics in law and the human sciences, as well as others interested in the future of law as a social endeavor."--Carol Greenhouse, Indiana University
Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Junsprudence and Political Science at Amherst College. He is a past President of the Law and Society Association and a recipient of its Harry Kalven Award. He is currently President of the Association for the Study of Law. Culture, and Humanities. His recent books include The Killing State: Capital Punishment in Law. Politics, and Culture and When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition (Princeton).
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