Punishment and Death: The Need for Radical Analysis

An issue of: Radical History Review

Punishment and Death
Journal Issue Pages: 164 Volume 6, Number 96 Number: 96 Published: 2006 An issue of Radical History Review
This special issue of Radical History Review considers the persistence of death and suffering in the history of punishment to be part of historical legacies created by slavery and colonialism. These essays, which focus primarily on the United States, contend that the most “modern” political systems of the twenty-first century still stand behind mechanisms of violence and death in their geopolitical strategies, sanctioning military use of torture and punishment, much like thoroughly repressive regimes, to incapacitate their enemies and even their own citizens. The issue further argues that the infliction of pain, suffering, and untimely death through punishment is foundational, rather than exceptional, to modern state power.

The issue’s contributors—comprising both academics and activists—examine the practices of punishment and death imposed upon citizens, particularly through penal systems. One contributor exposes how the indignation and outrage many Americans expressed toward the military torture at Abu Ghraib do not extend to similar instances of torture (beatings, “shower-baths,” sexual abuse, etc.) against inmates of color within the U.S. prison system. Another contributor reflects on the unexpected but effective alliance between antiprison activists and the environmental justice movement in California, which worked to stop the massive prison-building boom of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Bringing a longer sweep of Western colonialism into view, another essay reveals the racial prejudices within disciplinary processes of Puerto Rico that lingered even after the island’s emancipation from the Spanish American empire, leading to unequal distribution of punishment on both colonial and domestic subject populations.

Contributors. Ethan Blue, Rose Braz, Helena Cobban, Craig Gilmore, Alan Eladio Gómez, R. J. Lambrose, Heather Jane McCarty, Dylan Rodríguez, Kelvin Santiago-Valles, Carolyn Strange, Patrick Timmons


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Table of Contents Back to Top

1. Editors’ Introduction–Ethan Blue and Patrick Timmons

2. (Non)Scenes of Captivity: The Common Sense of Punishment and Death–Dylan Rodríguez

3. “Bloody Legislations,” “Entombment,” and Race Making in the Spanish Atlantic: Differentiated Spaces of General(ized) Confinement in Spain and Puerto Rico, 1750–1840–Kelvin Santiago-Valles

4. Resisting Living Death at Marion Federal Penitentiary, 1972–Alan Eladio Gómez

5. Educating Felons: Reflections on Higher Education in Prison–Heather Jane McCarty

6. Joining Forces: Prisons and Environmental Justice in Recent California Organizing–Rose Braz and Craig Gilmore

7. The Role of Mass Incarceration in Counterinsurgency: A Reflection on Caroline Elkins’s Imperial Reckoning in Light of Recent Events–Helena Cobban

8. Pain and Death: Transnational Perspectives

Review of Nikolaus Wachsmann, Hitler’s Prisons: Legal Terror

in Nazi Germany; Michael J. Pfeifer, Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874–1947; Diana Paton, No Bond but the Law: Punishment, Race,

and Gender in Jamaican State Formation, 1780–1870; Carlos Aguirre,

The Criminals of Lima and Their Worlds, 1850–1935; and Clare Anderson, Legible Bodies: Race, Criminality, and Colonialism in South Asia–Carolyn Strange

9. The Abusable Past–R. J. Lambrose

10. Notes on Contributors

Additional InformationBack to Top
ISBN Paperback: 978-0-8223-6660-7