This special issue of "Radical History Review" considers the
persistence of death and suffering in the history of punishment to
be part of historical legacies created by slavery and colonialism.
These essays, which focus primarily on the United States, contend
that the most "modern" political systems of the twenty-first
century still stand behind mechanisms of violence and death in
their geopolitical strategies, sanctioning military use of torture
and punishment, much like thoroughly repressive regimes, to
incapacitate their enemies and even their own citizens. The issue
further argues that the infliction of pain, suffering, and untimely
death through punishment is foundational, rather than exceptional,
to modern state power.
The issue's contributors--comprising both academics and
activists--examine the practices of punishment and death imposed
upon citizens, particularly through penal systems. One contributor
exposes how the indignation and outrage many Americans expressed
toward the military torture at Abu Ghraib do not extend to similar
instances of torture (beatings, "shower-baths," sexual abuse, etc.)
against inmates of color within the U.S. prison system. Another
contributor reflects on the unexpected but effective alliance
between antiprison activists and the environmental justice movement
in California, which worked to stop the massive prison-building
boom of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Bringing a longer sweep of Western colonialism into view, another
essay reveals the racial prejudices within disciplinary processes
of Puerto Rico that lingered even after the island's emancipation
from the Spanish American empire, leading to unequal distribution
ofpunishment on both colonial and domestic subject populations.
"Contributors," Ethan Blue, Rose Braz, Helena Cobban, Craig
Gilmore, Alan Eladio Gomez, R. J. Lambrose, Heather Jane McCarty,
Dylan Rodriguez, Kelvin Santiago-Valles, Carolyn Strange, Patrick
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