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From Slave Abuse to Hate Crime
The Criminalization of Racial Violence in American History

$93.00 (C)

Part of Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society

  • Date Published: October 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107026896

$ 93.00 (C)
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  • This book explores the complex ways in which political debates and legal reforms regarding the criminalization of racial violence have shaped the development of American racial history. Spanning previous campaigns for criminalizing slave abuse, lynching, and Klan violence and contemporary debates about the legal response to hate crimes, this book reveals both continuity and change in terms of the political forces underpinning the enactment of new laws regarding racial violence in different periods and of the social and institutional problems that hinder the effective enforcement of these laws. A thought-provoking analysis of how criminal law reflects and constructs social norms, this book offers a new historical and theoretical perspective for analyzing the limits of current attempts to use criminal legislation as a weapon against racism.

    • The first in-depth analysis of how political and legal ideas concerning the criminalization of racial violence have evolved from the slavery era to the present
    • Provides a new historical context for analyzing timely questions regarding the response to hate crimes
    • Illuminates the interrelations between the development of legal regimes of criminalizing racial violence and broader historical changes in racial attitudes
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "With a broad chronological sweep from the colonial era to the present day, Ely Aaronson for the first time illuminates the connections between efforts to criminalize violence against African Americans under slavery and Jim Crow and hate crime legislation today. Putting the tools of sociological analysis to work, he recasts familiar stories in a new and fascinating light, showing the way criminal justice - or injustice - works to perpetuate racial hierarchies. A must-read for students of law, history, criminology, and critical race studies."
    Ariela J. Gross, John B. and Alice R. Sharp Professor of Law and History, University of Southern California Law School

    "In this remarkable book, Ely Aaronson offers us a sophisticated and finely grained interpretation of the role of criminal laws ostensibly designed to address racial violence throughout the political history of the United States. Focusing in particular on the underlying political dynamics that shaped opportunities for both activism and resistance, but also paying close attention to the operation of legal doctrines and to the institutional structures within which law enforcement operates, Aaronson illuminates the distinctive shape of criminalization efforts in successive eras from slavery to the present day … From Slave Abuse to Hate Crime not only addresses a most pressing legal and political issue in the United States, but also contributes to sociolegal and political history and to social theory. It merits a large and attentive audience."
    N. M. Lacey, London School of Economics and Political Science

    "Contrary to the common assumption that hate crime laws are a product of the modern civil rights era, Aaronson’s brilliant study traces the logic of laws protecting minorities back to the legal framework of racial domination from slavery on. This impeccably researched and beautifully written book is essential reading for anyone concerned about the tangle of race and criminalization in the United States today."
    Jonathan Simon, Adrian A. Kragen Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107026896
    • length: 220 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Towards a historical and sociological analysis of the criminalization of racial violence
    2. Progressive criminalization at the heart of darkness?: the legal response to the victimization of slaves in the colonial and antebellum South
    3. 'Social equality is not a subject to be legislated upon': the rise and fall of federal pro-black criminalization policy, 1865–1909
    4. 'We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with': campaigning for criminalization reform in the long civil rights movement, 1909–68
    5. Criminalizing racial hatred, legitimizing racial inequality: hate-crime laws and the new politics of pro-black criminalization
    6. Conclusion: criminalization reform and egalitarian social change - an uneasy relationship.

  • Author

    Ely Aaronson, University of Haifa, Israel
    Ely Aaronson is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Haifa, Israel.

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