Hostis humani generis, meaning “enemy of humankind,” is the legal basis by which Western societies have defined such criminals as pirates, torturers, or terrorists as beyond the pale of civilization.
Sonja Schillings argues that the legal fiction designating certain persons or classes of persons as enemies of all humankind does more than characterize them as inherently hostile: it supplies a narrative basis for legitimating violence in the name of the state. The book draws attention to a century-old narrative pattern that not only underlies the legal category of enemies of the people, but more generally informs interpretations of imperial expansion, protest against structural oppression, and the transformation of institutions as “legitimate” interventions on behalf of civilized society. Schillings traces the Anglo-American interpretive history of the concept, which she sees as a crucial to understanding U.S. history, in particular with regard to the frontier, race relations, and the war on terror.
|Publisher:||Dartmouth College Press|
|Series:||Re-Mapping the Transnational: A Dartmouth Series in American Studies Series|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
SONJA SCHILLINGS is a postdoctoral researcher and assistant graduate studies executive at Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany.
Table of Contents
PART 1: THE EMPEROR AND THE PIRATE: LEGITIMATE VIOLENCE AS A MODERN DILEMMA
Augustine of Hippo: The City of God
Charles Johnson: A General History of the Pyrates
Charles Ellms: The Pirates’ Own Book
PART 2: RACE, SPACE, AND THE FORMATION OF THE HOSTIS HUMANI GENERIS CONSTELLATION
Piratae and Praedones: The Racialization of Hostis Humani Generis
John Locke, William Blackstone, and the Invader in the State of Nature
Hostis Humani Generis and the American Historical Novel: James Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer
PART 3: THE AMERICAN CIVILIZATION THESIS: INTERNALIZING THE OTHER
The Frontier Thesis as a Third Model of Civilization
The Democratic Frontiersman and the Totalitarian Leviathan
Free Agency and the Pure Woman Paradox
The Foundational Pirata in Richard Wright’s Native Son
PART 4: “IT IS UNDERNEATH US”: THE PLANETARY ZONE IN BETWEEN AS AN AMERICAN DILEMMA
The Institutional Frontier: A New Type of Criminal
Who Is Innocent? The Later Cold War Years
Moshin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and the War on Terror
What People are Saying About This
“Schillings’ reading of the hostis humani generis constellation in US literary, cultural, and legal texts is not only unique and groundbreaking; the study has all the potential to introduce the revived legal concept into American literary and cultural studies.”
“Schillings expands the discussion of legal and philosophical concepts in the current context of the 'war on terror' with greater historical depth than is usually found in such conversations, and she also makes a highly welcome contribution to the study of narrative fiction in such contexts.”
“This is he best kind of legal-historical scholarship. . . . Schillings illuminates central concepts, such as that of legal fictions, and explains their usefulness in situations that are from a legal perspective inchoate."