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Look Inside Law and the Borders of Belonging in the Long Nineteenth Century United States

Law and the Borders of Belonging in the Long Nineteenth Century United States


Part of New Histories of American Law

  • Date Published: May 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521152259

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About the Authors
  • For more than a generation, historians and legal scholars have documented inequalities at the heart of American law and daily life and exposed inconsistencies in the generic category of 'American citizenship'. Welke draws on that wealth of historical, legal, and theoretical scholarship to offer a new paradigm of liberal selfhood and citizenship from the founding of the United States through the 1920s. Law and the Borders of Belonging in the Long Nineteenth Century United States questions understanding this period through a progressive narrative of expanding rights, revealing that it was characterized instead by a sustained commitment to borders of belonging of liberal selfhood, citizenship, and nation in which able white men's privilege depended on the subject status of disabled persons, racialized others, and women. Welke's conclusions pose challenging questions about the modern liberal democratic state that extend well beyond the temporal and geographic boundaries of the long-nineteenth-century United States.

    • Traces both subordination and privilege, showing the significance of legal marginalization and subordination of disabled persons, racialized others, and women for the nature of the twentieth-century American state
    • Examines how meaningful citizenship depended on legal selfhood, during a period of history that included the nation's founding, the Civil War, and the transformation into capitalist industrial economy
    • Shows the significance of these historical inequalities for the nature of the twentieth-century American state and considers new categories of inequality like disability
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A book that 'every historian should read' is a rare phenomenon, but in my estimation this is one of them. Barbara Young Welke's remarkable achievement is to say something original and unexpected about race and gender. By setting both in relation to disability, she shows how these intertwined categories of identity have profoundly shaped the modern understanding of citizenship and legal personhood. That she does so in lucid and often powerful prose is icing on the cake.' Douglas Baynton, University of Iowa

    'In this extraordinary book, Barbara Young Welke embraces a revolution in historical understanding that has been elusive, even though in some ways it has long been right before our eyes. Moving past old paradigms and writing with clarity, confidence, and authority, she offers a fresh understanding of the meanings of US citizenship and a truly original narrative of social change in the United States from the founding generation to World War I.' Linda Kerber, University of Iowa

    'With clarity and concision, Barbara Young Welke shows the complex ways in which American law drew the lines of membership and citizenship according to physical and mental ability, race, and gender. This is a book of enormous sweep, power, and humanity.' Mae M. Ngai, Columbia University

    'Passionate, provocative, powerful: this splendid book should be required reading for everyone who wants to know anything about the history of American law.' Peggy Pascoe, author of What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America

    'This is a short book with big ideas … powerful analysis leaves no doubt that significant shifts occurred within American legal history, and Welke's interpretive framework … will be pivotal in shaping future inquiries.' Lucy Salyer, American Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521152259
    • length: 256 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 140 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.3kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Constructing a universal legal person: able white manhood
    2. Subjects of law: disabled persons, racialized others, and women
    3. Borders: resistance, defense, structure, and ideology
    Conclusion: abled, racialized, and gendered power in the making of the twentieth-century American state

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • At the Edges of Freedom: Liberalism and Slave Emancipation in the Western Hemisphere
    • Constitutional History of the United States
    • Enforcing Normalcy
    • Graduate Seminar: History of Disability
    • History of Disability in America
    • Literature and Disability
    • Nationality and Citizenship in World History
    • Race, Class and Gender in U.S. Legal History
    • Sex, Gender and the State
    • US Constitutional/Legal History I
  • Author

    Barbara Young Welke, University of Minnesota
    Barbara Young Welke is Associate Professor of History and Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota. She is the recipient of several prizes including the Surrency Prize from The American Society for Legal History for her article 'When All the Women Were White and All the Blacks Were Men: Gender, Race, Law and the Road to Plessy' and the American Historical Association's Littleton-Griswold Prize in the history of American law and society for her book, Recasting American Liberty: Gender, Race, Law and the Railroad Revolution, 1865–1920. Her earlier articles have appeared in Law and Social Inquiry and the Law and History Review.

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