Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blogging Las Vegas

Today was the last day of the Law, Culture, & the Humanities Conference at UNLV. A great event, the program offered a rich selection of legal history panels and presentations. One that I felt compelled to take detailed notes on was "Memory, Slavery, and Civil Rights," which featured presentations by Mark Golub, Mai-Linh Hong, and SpearIt (with commentary by David Tannenhaus). Golub deconstructed the analytic divide between southern extremists and moderates post-Brown, positing that both contributed to a new legal order that was at once color-blind and violent, perhaps more violent than the fire-hoses, police dogs, and state troopers of Birmingham and Selma (Golub's got an incredible article on Homer Plessy as a white man called Plessy as Passing in Law & Society Review). Hong focused on controversy over a Negro cemetery in downtown Richmond, much of which has been covered by a parking lot. In an absolutely fascinating paper, she showed how the cemetery was intentionally located near Shockoe Creek precisely because the creek tended to flood and the land was worthless, but the graveyard was not truly obscured until the arrival of urban renewal and Interstate 95, itself a meandering stream (of sorts). Finally, SpearIt interrogated links between the criminal justice system and religious ritual, focusing not only on our current era of mass incarceration, but also on the ritualistic quality of lynchings in the Deep South (SpearIt's got a great piece that deconstructs racial classifications entitled "Enslaved by Words," just up on SSRN).