The Law Is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons

By Colin Dayan | Go to book overview

2
CIVIL DEATH

The prejudice with respect to specters, therefore,
originates from nature; and such appearances
depend not, as philosophers have supposed,
solely upon the imagination.

—George-Louis Leclerc, Compte de Buffon, Histoire
naturelle, générale et particulière
(1749–78)


GHOSTS OF LAW

IN PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, I HEARD A STORY ABOUT A WHITE DOG. Reclaimed by an oungan—a priest who “deals with both hands,” practicing “bad” magic—a ghost dog comes to life. Starving, its eyes wild, it appears late at night. A Haitian friend called it “the dog without skin.” To have white skin was to have no skin at all. But this creature was not really a dog. When a person died, the spirit, stolen by the oungan, awakened from what had seemed sure death into a new existence in canine disguise. We all agreed that no spirit formerly in a human habitation would want to end up reborn in the skin of a dog. Being turned into a dog was bad enough, but to end up losing its natural color, to turn white, was worse. In this metamorphosis, the old skin of the dead person, like the skin discarded by a snake, is left behind. But the person’s spirit remains immured in this coarse envelope, locked in the form of a dog.

I tell this story, a tale of what some call the “supernatural,” to extend my discussion of the sorcery of law. What the modern

-39-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Law Is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 343

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.