The Long Summer of 2020: Race and Death in the United States

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2020 • 6:00 pm

This 6-part series will address recent and past incidents of police violence against African-Americans, as well as the roots of institutional racial violence, its contemporary manifestations, and anti-racist protests. If you are interested in attending this discussion series, please register here. Missouri Bar CLE credit is available.

(Dis)Continuities of Racialized Legal Violence

Geoff Ward, Professor of African and African-American Studies, WUSTL
David Cunningham, Professor of Sociology, WUSTL

Description: Focusing on the broad problem of racialized “legal violence” – or, uses of law in ways that are harmful to populations defined by race – we will discuss how modes of racialized violence are more expansive and intertwined than often appreciated, intermingling similar strategies and diverse operatives over time. Our discussion builds upon the central argument of historian Walter Johnson’s “Broken Heart of America”: that empire and anti-Blackness are at the core of our national identity, and their violence has especially flourished at the confluence that is St. Louis. We sociologically unpack this long view of racial violence and various uses of law therein, arguing against a more typical linear reading of successive modes of repression (e.g., “slavery ended…”), by attending to continuities in the long history of racialized legal violence we remain structurally bound up with. Rather than unfolding in succession – from settler colonialism to enslavement, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration – we contend that these transitions are more fluid, sharing repertoires and networks of racialized legal violence re-occurring over time. Please read this excerptfrom historian Walter Johnson’s new book, The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States. For the presentation, please see the map at page x and also read the 13-page Prologue, “Mapping the Loss.”

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