Law Library Newsletter

New & Notable

August 2008

The Practice of Human Rights:
Tracking Law Between the Global and the Local

The Origins of African-American Interests in International Law

Buying Harry A. Blackmun:
The Outsider Justice


New Acquisitions

Previous Issues





The Practice of Human Rights: Tracking Law Between the Global and the Local

Edited by Mark Goodale and Sally Engle Merry

Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007

K3240.P72 2007


From the Publisher
Human rights are now the dominant approach to social justice globally. But how do human rights work? What do they do? Drawing on anthropological studies of human rights work from around the world, this book examines human rights in practice. It shows how groups and organizations mobilize human rights language in a variety of local settings, often differently from those imagined by human rights law itself. The case studies reveal the contradictions and ambiguities of human rights approaches to various forms of violence. They show that this openness is not a failure of universal human rights as a coherent legal or ethical framework but an essential element in the development of living and organic ideas of human rights in context.

About the Author
Mark Goodale is an anthropologist who specializes in legal anthropology, human rights and culture, comparative ethical practice and epistemology, the anthropology of morality, and conflict studies. His PhD is from the University of Wisconsin—Madison (2001).

Sally Engle Merry is a Professor of Anthropology, Law and Society at New York University. Her PhD is from Brandeis. Prof. Merry’s research interests range from anthropology of law, human rights and colonialism, to transnationalism and gender as well as issues of race in the US and Asia/Pacific region.

Additional Information Online

The Origins of African-American Interests in International Law

By Henry J. Richardson III

Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2008

KF4757.R53 2008

From the Publisher
This book explores the birth of the African-American international tradition and, particularly, the roots of African Americans’ stake in international law. Richardson considers these origins as only formally arising about 1619, the date the first Africans were landed at Jamestown in the British North American colony of Virginia. He looks back to the opening of the European slave trade out of Africa and to the 1500s and the first arrival of Africans on the North American continent. Moving through the pre-Independence period, the American Revolution, the Constitutional Convention, and the Westward Migration, the book ends around 1820.

This historical period also roughly corresponds to two other key historical phenomena greatly affecting the Atlantic Ocean basin: the rise of international law as a modern legal system (including European states and their Atlantic colonies) and the rise and flourishing of the international slave trade in African slaves to the Americas by European and New World governments and merchants. Only by placing African slavery in the British North American colonies in the context of the international slave system encompassing and linking the New World can the voices, struggles, demands, claims, and decisions of slaves and Free Blacks in North America towards freedom, relative to their evolving interests under international law, be properly understood.

About the Author
Henry Richardson is a professor of law at Temple University Beasley School of Law

Additional Information Online

Harry A. Blackmun: The Outsider Justice

By Tinsley E. Yarbrough

Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2008

KF8745.B555Y37 2008

From the Publisher
When appointed to the Supreme Court in 1970 by President Nixon, Harry A. Blackmun was seen as a quiet, safe choice to complement the increasingly conservative Court of his boyhood friend, Warren Burger. No one anticipated his seminal opinion championing abortion rights in Roe v. Wade, the most controversial ruling of his generation, which became the battle cry of both supporters and critics of judicial power and made Blackmun a liberal icon.

Harry A. Blackmun: The Outsider Justice is Tinsley E. Yarbrough's penetrating account of one of the most outspoken and complicated figures on the Supreme Court. As a justice, Blackmun stood at the pinnacle of the American judiciary. Yet when he took his seat on the Court, Justice Blackmun felt "almost desperate," overwhelmed with feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy over the immense responsibilities before him. Blackmun had overcome humble roots to achieve a Harvard education, success as a Minneapolis lawyer and resident counsel to the prestigious Mayo Clinic, as well as a distinguished record on the Eighth Circuit federal appeals court. But growing up in a financially unstable home with a frequently unemployed father and an emotionally fragile mother left a permanent mark on the future justice. All his life, Harry Blackmun considered himself one of society's outsiders, someone who did not "belong."

Thoroughly researched, engagingly written, Harry A. Blackmun: The Outsider Justice offers an in-depth, revelatory portrait of one of the most intriguing jurists ever to sit on the Supreme Court. Relying on in-depth archival material, in addition to numerous interviews with Blackmun's former clerks, Yarbrough here presents the definitive biography of the great justice, ultimately providing an illuminating window into the inner-workings of the modern Supreme Court.

About the Author
Tinsley E. Yarbrough is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at East Carolina University. He is the author of ten books, including David Hackett Souter: Traditional Republican on the Rehnquist Court, The Rehnquist Court and the Constitution, and Judge Frank Johnson and Human Rights in Alabama, for which he won an ABA Silver Gavel Award. He lives in Greenville, North Carolina.

Additional Information Online

Newsletter written by law library staff.
New & Notable compiled by Bob Menanteaux and Nancy Minton;
Technical Direction by Greg Soejima

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