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A fresh interpretation of Jeremy Bentham, finding that his “radical foolery” embodied a social ethics that was revolutionary for its time.

Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) is best remembered today as the founder of utilitarianism (a philosophy infamously abused by the Victorians) and the conceiver of the Panopticon, the circular prison house in which all prisoners could be seen by an unseen observer—later seized upon by Michel Foucault as the apotheosis of the neoliberal control society. In this volume in the Untimely Meditation series, Christian Welzbacher offers a new interpretation of Bentham, arguing that his “radical foolery” (paraphrasing Goethe's characterization of Bentham) actually embodied a social ethics that was new for its time and demands proper historical contextualization rather than retroactive analysis from the vantage point of late capitalism. Welzbacher provides just such an analysis, offering an account of the two great utilitarian projects that occupied Bentham all his life: the Panopticon and the Auto-Icon.

Welzbacher rescues the Panopticon from the misapprehensions of Foucault, Orwell, and Lacan, arguing that Bentham saw the Panopticon as a pedagogical instrument incorporating the tenets of reason; construction and function, plan and influence, architecture and politics are brought into alignment. Bentham extolled the discovery in words that could easily be ascribed to Le Corbusier, Bruno Taut, or any other modernist architect. The Auto-Icon expressed Bentham's theories that the dead should benefit later generations; these theories were effectively sealed when Bentham decided to have his body preserved and put on display. (It can be seen today in a cabinet at University College London.) He also donated his inner organs to science—a practice outlawed at the time—and posthumously stage-managed his own ceremonial autopsy.

Welzbacher reveals a Bentham who raised questions that feel familiar and current, invoking topoi that would come to define the modern era and that reverberate to this day.

Reshaping Beloved Community: The Experiences of Black Male Felons and Their Impact on Black Radical Traditions offers a reflexive interrogation on the history of black male incarceration in the United States starting in the nineteenth century to both illustrate the complex ways black male felons have been discursively constructed and the various techniques utilized in the United States to erase the contributions of black male felons and their black radical projects. This erasure has left many black men without the benefit of fellowship and community.



Therefore, Reshaping Beloved Community focuses on particular black male felons and their cultural production to highlight experiences of blackness that is often marginalized or ignored. In order to characterize these experiences and contributions of black male felons, Reshaping Beloved Community expands Victor Anderson’s definition of creative exchange by offering contemplative conversations of black male felons in history and the cultural works they produced. It draws on an interdisciplinary approach to reveal how some black male felons have used prison and the experience of incarceration to craft narratives and liberation movements.



The philosophical approach within Reshaping Beloved Community deploys constructive and innovative concepts, particularly of the grotesque, to interpret how black male felons have resisted American political and cultural restraints on their humanity. Anderson’s concepts of creative exchange help create a framework that enables readers to see how the cultural production of black male felons reveals the unique experiences and worldview of black men trapped in various forms of penal captivity. These experiences speak to a deeper reality that is largely hidden because of the ways incarceration and penal captivity diminishes certain people in society. Yet a reengagement with those movements helps to link black male felons to the whole of black life and culture.



In the end, Reshaping Beloved Community allows black radical scholars to gain deeper insight into the roles black male felons have played in critiquing American politics and culture. Moreover, it shows that the cultural productions of black male felons are just as important to understanding black life in American society as slave narratives, blues music, and the like.
Over the last few decades, most societies have become more repressive, their laws more relentless, their magistrates more inflexible, independently of the evolution of crime. In The Will to Punish, using an approach both genealogical and ethnographic, distinguished anthropologist Didier Fassin addresses the major issues raised by this punitive moment through an inquiry into the very foundations of punishment. What is punishment? Why punish? Who is punished? Through these three questions, he initiates a critical dialogue with moral philosophy and legal theory on the definition, the justification and the distribution of punishment. Discussing various historical and national contexts, mobilizing a ten-year research program on police, justice and prison, and taking up the legacy of Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault, he shows that the link between crime and punishment is an historical artifact, that the response to crime has not always been the infliction of pain, that punishment does not only proceed from rational logics used to legitimize it, that more severity in sentencing often means increasing social inequality before the law, and that the question, "What should be punished?" always comes down to the questions "Whom do we deem punishable?" and "Whom do we want to be spared?" Going against a triumphant penal populism, this investigation proposes a salutary revision of the presuppositions that nourish the passion for punishing and invites to rethink the place of punishment in the contemporary world. The theses developed in the volume are discussed by criminologist David Garland, historian Rebecca McLennan, and sociologist Bruce Western, to whom Didier Fassin responds in a short essay.
Why stigmatizing and confining a large segment of our population should be unacceptable to all Americans.

The United States, home to five percent of the world's population, now houses twenty-five percent of the world's prison inmates. Our incarceration rate—at 714 per 100,000 residents and rising—is almost forty percent greater than our nearest competitors (the Bahamas, Belarus, and Russia). More pointedly, it is 6.2 times the Canadian rate and 12.3 times the rate in Japan. Economist Glenn Loury argues that this extraordinary mass incarceration is not a response to rising crime rates or a proud success of social policy. Instead, it is the product of a generation-old collective decision to become a more punitive society. He connects this policy to our history of racial oppression, showing that the punitive turn in American politics and culture emerged in the post-civil rights years and has today become the main vehicle for the reproduction of racial hierarchies. Whatever the explanation, Loury argues, the uncontroversial fact is that changes in our criminal justice system since the 1970s have created a nether class of Americans—vastly disproportionately black and brown—with severely restricted rights and life chances. Moreover, conservatives and liberals agree that the growth in our prison population has long passed the point of diminishing returns. Stigmatizing and confining of a large segment of our population should be unacceptable to Americans. Loury's call to action makes all of us now responsible for ensuring that the policy changes.

A New York Times Editors’ Choice

"A welcome addition to the vast literature produced by jailed writers across the centuries . . . [a] thrilling testament to the human spirit."
—Ariel Dorfman, The New York Times Book Review

"Wrestling with the Devil is a powerful testament to the courage of Ngũgĩ and his fellow prisoners and validation of the hope that an independent Kenya would eventually emerge."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"The Ngũgĩ of Wrestling with the Devil called not just for adding a bit of color to the canon’s sagging shelf, but for abolition and upheaval."
—Bookforum

An unforgettable chronicle of the year the brilliant novelist and memoirist, long favored for the Nobel Prize, was thrown in a Kenyan jail without charge

Wrestling with the Devil, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s powerful prison memoir, begins literally half an hour before his release on December 12, 1978. In one extended flashback he recalls the night, a year earlier, when armed police pulled him from his home and jailed him in Kenya’s Kamĩtĩ Maximum Security Prison, one of the largest in Africa. There, he lives in a prison block with eighteen other political prisoners, quarantined from the general prison population.

In a conscious effort to fight back the humiliation and the intended degradation of the spirit, Ngũgĩ—the world-renowned author of Weep Not, Child; Petals of Blood; and Wizard of the Crow—decides to write a novel on toilet paper, the only paper to which he has access, a book that will become his classic, Devil on the Cross.

Written in the early 1980s and never before published in America, Wrestling with the Devil is Ngũgĩ’s account of the drama and the challenges of writing the novel under twenty-four-hour surveillance. He captures not only the excruciating pain that comes from being cut off from his wife and children, but also the spirit of defiance that defines hope. Ultimately, Wrestling with the Devil is a testimony to the power of imagination to help humans break free of confinement, which is truly the story of all art.

During the 1980s thousands of refugees from Central America, who sought safe haven in the United States, found themselves incarcerated in immigration prisonsabused by their jailors and deprived of the most basic legal and human rights. Drawing on declassified government documents and interviews with more than 3,000 Central American refugees, Kahn portrays the chilling reality of daily life in immigration prisons and reveals how the Department of Justice and the Immigration and Naturalization Service intentionally violated federal laws and regulations to deny protection to refugees fleeing wars financed by U.S. military aid. }During the 1980s hundreds of thousands of refugees fled civil wars and death squads in Central America, seeking safe haven in the United States. Instead, thousands found themselves incarcerated in immigration prisonsabused by their jailors and deprived of the most basic legal and human rights. Drawing on declassified government documents and interviews with prison officials, INS staff, and more than 3,000 Central American refugees, Robert S. Kahn reveals how the Department of Justice and its dependent agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, intentionally violated federal laws and regulations to deny protection to refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala who were fleeing wars financed by U.S. military aid.Kahn portrays the chilling reality of daily life in immigration prisons in Texas, Arizona, and Louisiana. Behind the razor-topped prison walls, refugees were not simply denied political asylum; they were beaten, robbed, sexually assaulted, and sometimes tortured by prison guards. Other Peoples Blood traces the ten-year legal struggle by volunteer prison workers and attorneys to stop the abuse of refugees and to force the Justice Department to concede in court that its treatment of immigrants had violated U. S. laws and the Geneva Convention for over a decade. Yet the case of American Baptist Churches v. Thornburgh, which overturned more judicial decisions than any other case in U.S. history, is still virtually unknown in the United States, and today the debate over illegal immigration is being carried on with little awareness of the government policies that contributed so shamefully to this countrys immigration problems. }
A startling exposé of the CIA's development and spread of psychological torture, from the Cold War to Abu Ghraib and beyond

In this revelatory account of the CIA's secret, fifty-year effort to develop new forms of torture, historian Alfred W. McCoy uncovers the deep, disturbing roots of recent scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. Far from aberrations, as the White House has claimed, A Question of Torture shows that these abuses are the product of a long-standing covert program of interrogation.
Developed at the cost of billions of dollars, the CIA's method combined "sensory deprivation" and "self-inflicted pain" to create a revolutionary psychological approach—the first innovation in torture in centuries. The simple techniques—involving isolation, hooding, hours of standing, extremes of hot and cold, and manipulation of time—constitute an all-out assault on the victim's senses, destroying the basis of personal identity. McCoy follows the years of research—which, he reveals, compromised universities and the U.S. Army—and the method's dissemination, from Vietnam through Iran to Central America. He traces how after 9/11 torture became Washington's weapon of choice in both the CIA's global prisons and in "torture-friendly" countries to which detainees are dispatched. Finally McCoy argues that information extracted by coercion is worthless, making a case for the legal approach favored by the FBI.
Scrupulously documented and grippingly told, A Question of Torture is a devastating indictment of inhumane practices that have spread throughout the intelligence system, damaging American's laws, military, and international standing.

New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2018

One of President Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2018

Winner of the 2019 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize 

Winner of the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism

Winner of the 2019 RFK Book and Journalism Award

A New York Times Notable Book 

A ground-breaking and brave inside reckoning with the nexus of prison and profit in America: in one Louisiana prison and over the course of our country's history.

In 2014, Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. An award-winning investigative journalist, he used his real name; there was no meaningful background check. Four months later, his employment came to an abrupt end. But he had seen enough, and in short order he wrote an exposé about his experiences that won a National Magazine Award and became the most-read feature in the history of the magazine Mother Jones. Still, there was much more that he needed to say. In American Prison, Bauer weaves a much deeper reckoning with his experiences together with a thoroughly researched history of for-profit prisons in America from their origins in the decades before the Civil War. For, as he soon realized, we can't understand the cruelty of our current system and its place in the larger story of mass incarceration without understanding where it came from. Private prisons became entrenched in the South as part of a systemic effort to keep the African-American labor force in place in the aftermath of slavery, and the echoes of these shameful origins are with us still.

The private prison system is deliberately unaccountable to public scrutiny. Private prisons are not incentivized to tend to the health of their inmates, or to feed them well, or to attract and retain a highly-trained prison staff. Though Bauer befriends some of his colleagues and sympathizes with their plight, the chronic dysfunction of their lives only adds to the prison's sense of chaos. To his horror, Bauer finds himself becoming crueler and more aggressive the longer he works in the prison, and he is far from alone.

A blistering indictment of the private prison system, and the powerful forces that drive it, American Prison is a necessary human document about the true face of justice in America.
When helicopters plucked the last Americans off the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1975, countless Vietnamese who had worked with or for the Americans remained behind. Many of these were soon arrested and sent to "reeducation" camps where they faced forced labor, indoctrination sessions, and privation. Others suffered through harrowing flights from their homes seeking safe haven across treacherous seas. The stories of three of these Vietnamese who survived and eventually found their way to America are told here in stark and moving detail.

For a decade before the fall of Saigon, Edward P. Metzner served as an advisor among the people of the beautiful and hotly contested Mekong Delta. After the war, he diligently sought news of the close friends and comrades in arms he had made among the Vietnamese military officers. Many had died; others could not be found. When Metzner eventually located a few, he believed their stories should be told. Three agreed to do so, and their accounts form the core of Reeducation in Postwar Vietnam: Personal Postscripts to Peace.

Two of the men, Huynh Van Chinh and Tran Van Phuc, who had been colonels of the Army of Vietnam, lived through the deprivation, torture, and mental abuse of the reeducation camps and eventually found freedom in America. The experiences of these two men reveal not only the closely guarded secrets of the experiences of high-ranking officers in post-war Vietnam but also the changes in the camps over time. In the book's other first-person account, Col. Le Nguyen Binh tells a different story: his dangerous escape from Vietnam, with some of his junior officers and enlisted men, in three overloaded fishing boats with low stocks of drinking water and food and recalcitrant crews.

Metzner introduces the book and the individual stories with the details necessary to understand the larger picture of which they are a part. He also profiles Gen. Le Minh Dao, a division commander in the dangerous area northwest of Saigon who spent seventeen years in North Vietnamese jails, and Father Joe Devlin, a Catholic priest who aided innumerable people in Vietnam through the years of the war and in Malaysian refugee camps afterward.

The matter-of-fact, even stoic stories of these survivors stand as a testimony to their endurance and persistent desire to return to a life in freedom.

Detention and confinement—of both combatants and large groups of civilians—have become fixtures of asymmetric wars over the course of the last century. Counterinsurgency theoreticians and practitioners explain this dizzying rise of detention camps, internment centers, and enclavisation by arguing that such actions "protect" populations. In this book, Laleh Khalili counters these arguments, telling the story of how this proliferation of concentration camps, strategic hamlets, "security walls," and offshore prisons has come to be. Time in the Shadows investigates the two major liberal counterinsurgencies of our day: Israeli occupation of Palestine and the U.S. War on Terror. In rich detail, the book investigates Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, CIA black sites, the Khiam Prison, and Gaza, among others, and links them to a history of colonial counterinsurgencies from the Boer War and the U.S. Indian wars, to Vietnam, the British small wars in Malaya, Kenya, Aden and Cyprus, and the French pacification of Indochina and Algeria. Khalili deftly demonstrates that whatever the form of incarceration—visible or invisible, offshore or inland, containing combatants or civilians—liberal states have consistently acted illiberally in their counterinsurgency confinements. As our tactics of war have shifted beyond slaughter to elaborate systems of detention, liberal states have warmed to the pursuit of asymmetric wars. Ultimately, Khalili confirms that as tactics of counterinsurgency have been rendered more "humane," they have also increasingly encouraged policymakers to willingly choose to wage wars.
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