Mark S. Weiner

Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking

In Race on July 8, 2016 at 10:30 am

In 2004, I published a book called Black Trials, a history of African Americans and the law from the colonial era to the present. The book grew from an undergraduate seminar which I taught in the American Studies program at Stanford in 1999, though its interpretive frame goes back to a doctoral dissertation about anthropology, jurisprudence, and American state development which I later published as Americans without Law.

The basic interpretive frame of Black Trials is the idea that the African American struggle for civic inclusion in the United States has involved a struggle to be viewed as a “people of law”—a struggle which also has involved a conflict about the nature of American law itself.

I discussed that idea in a talk I gave in 2005 at Syracuse University, where I also considered the meaning of the epigram of the book, taken from a poem by Walt Whitman. The talk can be found here.

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