Law and the Stranger

Law and the Stranger

Law and the Stranger

Law and the Stranger

Synopsis

Law calls communities into being and constitutes the "we" it governs. This act of defining produces an outside as well as an inside, a border whose crossing is guarded, maintaining the identity, coherence, and integrity of the space and people within. Those wishing to enter must negotiate a complex terrain of defensive mechanisms, expectations, assumptions, and legal proscriptions. Essentially, law enforces the boundary between inside and outside in both physical and epistemological ways.

Law and the Stranger explores the ways law identifies and responds to strangers within and across borders. It analyzes the ambiguous place strangers occupy in communities not their own and reflects on how dealing with strangers challenges the laws and communities that invite or parry them. As the book reveals, strangers are made through law, rather than born through accidents of geography.

Excerpt

Austin Sarat

Law rence D ouglas

Martha mer rill umphrey

Law calls community into being. It constitutes the “we” it governs, hailing us as those subject to its power, naming us as the group under its jurisdiction. This performative act of naming necessarily produces an outside as well as an inside, a border whose crossing is guarded in order to maintain the identity, coherence, and integrity of the space and people within. Those wishing to enter must negotiate a complex terrain of defensive mechanisms, expectations, assumptions, and legal proscriptions. Is that, “we” ask, someone who should be allowed to enter, someone to whom we should offer hospitality? We in turn negotiate those questions with and through law, which enforces the boundary between inside and outside in both physical and epistemological ways. We know who “we” are by situating ourselves, or by being situated, in relation to that boundary.

Law and the Stranger explores ways in which law, and in particular liberal legal regimes, identifies and responds to strangers within and across their borders, both historically and in the present day. the chapters in this book analyze the ambiguous place strangers occupy in communities not their own, and each chapter, from its own perspective (whether theoretical, jurisprudential, historical, or literary), reflects on the ways in which dealing with strangers challenges the laws and communities that invite or parry them.

The inquiries here are all the more timely because questions about how nations, peoples, and communities ought to negotiate with strangers have emerged as an increasingly pressing issue in the early twenty-first century, a time of intensified global conflict and global interconnection both economically and technologically. While Barack Obama may be moving away from the by-now familiar invocation of a “war on terror,” it remains the case that the . . .

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