Accounting for Violence offers bold new perspectives on the politics of memory in Latin America. Scholars from across the humanities and social sciences provide in-depth analyses of the political economy of memory in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay, countries that emerged from authoritarian rule in the 1980s and 1990s. The contributors take up issues of authenticity and commodification, as well as the “never again” imperative implicit in memory goods and memorial sites. They describe how bookstores, cinemas, theaters, the music industry, and television shows (and their commercial sponsors) trade in testimonial and fictional accounts of the authoritarian past; how tourist itineraries have come to include trauma sites and memorial museums; and how memory studies has emerged as a distinct academic field profiting from its own journals, conferences, book series, and courses. The memory market, described in terms of goods, sites, producers, marketers, consumers, and patrons, presents a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, commodifying memory potentially cheapens it. On the other hand, too little public exposure may limit awareness of past human-rights atrocities; such awareness may help to prevent their recurring.
Contributors. Rebecca J. Atencio, Ksenija Bilbija, Jo-Marie Burt, Laurie Beth Clark, Cath Collins, Susana Draper, Nancy Gates-Madsen, Susana Kaiser, Cynthia E. Milton, Alice A. Nelson, Carmen Oquendo Villar, Leigh A. Payne, José Ramón Ruisánchez Serra, Maria Eugenia Ulfe
Acts of Repair explores how ordinary people grapple with political violence in Argentina, a nation home to survivors of multiple genocides and periods of violence, including the Holocaust, the political repression of the 1976-1983 dictatorship, and the 1994 AMIA bombing. Despite efforts for accountability, the terrain of justice has been uneven and, in many cases, impunity remains. How can citizens respond to such ongoing trauma? Within frameworks of transitional justice, what does this tell us about the possibility of recovery and repair? Turning to the lived experience of survivors and family members of victims of genocide and violence, Natasha Zaretsky argues for the ongoing significance of cultural memory as a response to trauma and injustice, as revealed through testimonies and public protests. Even if such repair may be inevitably liminal and incomplete, their acts seeking such repair also yield spaces for transformation and agency critical to personal and political recovery.
African Asylum at a Crossroads: Activism, Expert Testimony, and Refugee Rights examines the emerging trend of requests for expert opinions in asylum hearings or refugee status determinations. This is the first book to explore the role of court-based expertise in relation to African asylum cases and the first to establish a rigorous analytical framework for interpreting the effects of this new reliance on expert testimony.
Over the past two decades, courts in Western countries and beyond have begun demanding expert reports tailored to the experience of the individual claimant. As courts increasingly draw upon such testimony in their deliberations, expertise in matters of asylum and refugee status is emerging as an academic area with its own standards, protocols, and guidelines. This deeply thoughtful book explores these developments and their effects on both asylum seekers and the experts whose influence may determine their fate.
Contributors: Iris Berger, Carol Bohmer, John Campbell, Katherine Luongo, E. Ann McDougall, Karen Musalo, Tricia Redeker Hepner, Amy Shuman, Joanna T. Tague, Meredith Terretta, and Charlotte Walker-Said.
Has South Africa dealt effectively with the past, and is the country ready to face the future? What are the challenges facing both government and civil society in the years ahead? These and other questions are explored in this collection of essays by international and local commentators on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
A range of perspectives on whether the TRC met its objectives of truth and reconciliation is presented. The areas of particular contention-the payment of reparation, the granting of amnesty, and memorialization-are also examined.
Finally, the major challenges facing South Africa are identified, and ways of meeting these challenges and developing the assets of the nation are explored.
Contributors: Haribert Adam, Kanya Adam, Alex Boraine, Colin Bundy, Mary Burton, John de Gruchy, Richard Goldstone, Willem Heath, Wilmot James, Jeffrey Lever, Mahmood Mamdani, Gary Minkley, Njabulo Ndebele, Dumisa Ntsebeza, Kaizer Nyatsumba, Grace Naledi Pandor, Mamphela Ramphele, Ciraj Rassool, Albie Sachs, Patricia Valdez, Linda van de Vijver, Jan van Eck, Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, Charles Villa-Vicencio, Francis Wilson, and Leslie Witz
In the mid-1990s, when the United Nations adopted positions affirming a woman's right to be free from bodily harm and to control her own reproductive health, it was both a coup for the international women's rights movement and an instructive moment for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) seeking to influence UN decision making.
Prior to the UN General Assembly's 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women and the 1994 decision by the UN's Conference on Population and Development to vault women's reproductive rights and health to the forefront of its global population growth management program, there was little consensus among governments as to what constituted violence against women and how much control a woman should have over reproduction. Jutta Joachim tells the story of how, in the years leading up to these decisions, women's organizations got savvy—framing the issues strategically, seizing political opportunities in the international environment, and taking advantage of mobilizing structures—and overcame the cultural opposition of many UN-member states to broadly define the two issues and ultimately cement women's rights as an international cause.
Joachim's deft examination of the documents, proceedings, and actions of the UN and women's advocacy NGOs—supplemented by interviews with key players from concerned parties, and her own participant-observation—reveals flaws in state-centered international relations theories as applied to UN policy, details the tactics and methods that NGOs can employ in order to push rights issues onto the UN agenda, and offers insights into the factors that affect NGO influence. In so doing, Agenda Setting, the UN, and NGOs departs from conventional international relations theory by drawing on social movement literature to illustrate how rights groups can motivate change at the international level.
During Stalin's Great Terror, more than a million Soviet citizens were arrested or killed for political crimes they did not commit. Who carried out these purges, and what motivated them? Alexander Vatlin opens up the world of the Soviet perpetrators using detailed evidence from one Moscow suburb. Spurred by ambition or fear, local secret police rushed to fulfill quotas for arresting "enemies of the people"—even when it meant fabricating evidence. Vatlin confronts head-on issues of historical agency and moral responsibility in Stalin-era crimes.
Does foreign aid promote human rights? As the world’s largest aid donor, the United States has provided foreign assistance to more than 200 countries. Deploying global numerical data on US foreign aid and comparative historical analysis of America’s post–Cold War foreign policies in Southeast Asia, Aid Imperium provides the most comprehensive explanation that links US strategic assistance to physical integrity rights outcomes in recipient countries, particularly in ways that previous quantitative studies have systematically ignored. The book innovatively highlights the active political agency of Global South states and actors as they negotiate and chart their political trajectories with the United States as the core state of the international system. Drawing from theoretical insights in the humanities and the social sciences as well as a wide range of empirical documents, Aid Imperium is the first multidisciplinary study to explain how US foreign policy affects state repression and physical integrity rights outcomes in Southeast Asia and the rest of the Global South.
In the long history of warfare and cultural and ethnic violence, the twentieth century was exceptional for producing institutions charged with seeking accountability or redress for violent offenses and human rights abuses across the globe, often forcing nations to confront the consequences of past atrocities. The Holocaust ended with trials at Nuremberg, apartheid in South Africa concluded with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Gacaca courts continue to strive for closure in the wake of the Rwandan genocide. Despite this global trend toward accountability, American collective memory appears distinct in that it tends to glorify the nation’s past, celebrating triumphs while eliding darker episodes in its history. In American Memories, sociologists Joachim Savelsberg and Ryan King rigorously examine how the United States remembers its own and others’ atrocities and how institutional responses to such crimes, including trials and tribunals, may help shape memories and perhaps impede future violence. American Memories uses historical and media accounts, court records, and survey research to examine a number of atrocities from the nation’s past, including the massacres of civilians by U.S. military in My Lai, Vietnam, and Haditha, Iraq. The book shows that when states initiate responses to such violence—via criminal trials, tribunals, or reconciliation hearings—they lay important groundwork for how such atrocities are viewed in the future. Trials can serve to delegitimize violence—even by a nation’s military— by creating a public record of grave offenses. But the law is filtered by and must also compete with other institutions, such as the media and historical texts, in shaping American memory. Savelsberg and King show, for example, how the My Lai slayings of women, children, and elderly men by U.S. soldiers have been largely eliminated from or misrepresented in American textbooks, and the army’s reputation survived the episode untarnished. The American media nevertheless evoked the killings at My Lai in response to the murder of twenty-four civilian Iraqis in Haditha, during the war in Iraq. Since only one conviction was obtained for the My Lai massacre, and convictions for the killings in Haditha seem increasingly unlikely, Savelsberg and King argue that Haditha in the near past is now bound inextricably to My Lai in the distant past. With virtually no criminal convictions, and none of higher ranks for either massacre, both events will continue to be misrepresented in American memory. In contrast, the book examines American representations of atrocities committed by foreign powers during the Balkan wars, which entailed the prosecution of ranking military and political leaders. The authors analyze news accounts of the war’s events and show how articles based on diplomatic sources initially cast Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in a less negative light, but court-based accounts increasingly portrayed Milosevic as a criminal, solidifying his image for the public record. American Memories provocatively suggests that a nation’s memories don’t just develop as a rejoinder to events—they are largely shaped by institutions. In the wake of atrocities, how a state responds has an enduring effect and provides a moral framework for whether and how we remember violent transgressions. Savelsberg and King deftly show that such responses can be instructive for how to deal with large-scale violence in the future, and hopefully how to deter it. A Volume in the American Sociological Association’s Rose Series in Sociology.
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."
"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."
"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."
"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.
Questions of human rights are among the most pressing and intractable matters at this historical moment. If claims to human rights are by definition universal, the formulation, legislation, and implementation of them tend to be significantly less than universal. And Justice for All? a special issue of SAQ, examines the idea and the reality of human rights and their attendant discourses. The essays gathered here—from academics and activists working in law, philosophy, political theory, literature, medicine, and ngos—collectively interrogate these universal claims to human rights and the political justice that may or may not follow from them.
Grappling with the philosophical and theoretical questions at the heart of human rights, these essays take into consideration current political configurations such as sovereignty, genocide, humanitarian intervention, and the neglected domain of cultural rights (the right to a cultural identity). Drawing on Enlightenment thinking about human rights at the same time that they analyze the central concepts at work there—including the “humanity of man” and the nature of rights or of law—the contributors make a necessary intervention in a world system that Enlightenment thinkers could scarcely have envisioned.
Contributors. Etienne Balibar, Rony Brauman, Wendy Brown, Rebecca Comay, Jacques Derrida, Paul Downes, Werner Hamacher, Thomas Keenan, Susan Maslan, Jacques Rancière, Bruce Robbins, Avital Ronell, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Elsa Stamatopoulou, Slavoj Zizek
Roughly 1.7 million people died in Cambodia from untreated disease, starvation, and execution during the Khmer Rouge reign of less than four years in the late 1970s. The regime’s brutality has come to be symbolized by the multitude of black-and-white mug shots of prisoners taken at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands of “enemies of the state” were tortured before being sent to the Killing Fields. In Archiving the Unspeakable, Michelle Caswell traces the social life of these photographic records through the lens of archival studies and elucidates how, paradoxically, they have become agents of silence and witnessing, human rights and injustice as they are deployed at various moments in time and space. From their creation as Khmer Rouge administrative records to their transformation beginning in 1979 into museum displays, archival collections, and databases, the mug shots are key components in an ongoing drama of unimaginable human suffering.
Winner, Waldo Gifford Leland Award, Society of American Archivists
Longlist, ICAS Book Prize, International Convention of Asia Scholars
More than half a century after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights defined what a human being is and is entitled to, Catharine MacKinnon asks: Are women human yet? She exposes the consequences and significance of the systematic maltreatment of women and its systemic condonation as she points toward fresh ways of targeting its toxic orthodoxies. A critique of the transnational status quo that also envisions the transforming possibilities of human rights, this bracing book makes us look as never before at an ongoing war too long undeclared.