Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Uncivil Disobedience" Reviewed

While we are on the topic of popular constitutionalism, Uncivil Disobedience is definitely worth a read. Much of the book was written while the author, Jennet Kirkpatrick, University of Michigan, was in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. This study, while slim, packs a nice punch. Unlike many accounts of direct action, Kirkpatrick is willing to confront the darker implications of America's tradition of popular sovereignty. Highly recommended.

From Jon Goldberg-Hiller, University of Hawai'i, in the Law & Politics Book Review:

Jennet Kirkpatrick’s book provides an engaging examination of what she has calls “uncivil disobedients,” popular actors who practice and profess the value of “righteous violence.”

. . . .

UNCIVIL DISOBEDIENCE develops these sociolegal inquiries alongside fascinating accounts of vigilantes, Southern lynch mobs, and militant abolitionists. These histories confront the reader with the structures of popular violence reproduced within the American experience, dispelling dismissive notions of their aberration or their charismatic irruption.

. . . .

Kirkpatrick’s study is rich in history and suggestive in its pursuit of other models for thinking about law’s social meanings. She misses several opportunities, however, to invite further inquiry in this short book. We do not learn enough about the gendered nature of political violence, even though the lynch mobs are aggravated and motivated by concerns over sexual violation.
Read on.