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Resisting State Violence

Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture

1996
Author:

Joy James
Foreword by Angela Y. Davis

Resisting State Violence

An incendiary critique of contemporary American society that also offers concrete solutions for the dilemmas facing progressive politics.

African American scholar-activist Joy James offers a stimulating and iconoclastic account of a world in which the United States functions as the political-police center. Resisting State Violence is a clear-sighted and uncompromising guidebook for those who want to understand the forces that hinder social change, and to effectively move beyond them.

“This new collection of essays, tightly woven together and forming a coherent whole, explores the interconnections between violence, political oppression, and U.S. foreign and domestic policies in the contemporary era. . . . Readers who may be sympathetic to James’s fierce critique of American political culture will find food for thought in her general analysis.” Library Journal

As the political climate of the United States moves rightward, effective and visionary voices from the left become both rarer and more essential. In Resisting State Violence, African American scholar-activist Joy James provides such a voice. Taking the convergence of race, gender, and class as fundamental trajectories, James offers a stimulating and iconoclastic account of a world in which the United States functions as the political-police center.

At its core, Resisting State Violence is about the many ways the current structure of American government and society is inimical to human rights. James examines the prevalence of racist violence in U.S. policies, making provocative connections between seemingly disparate themes and events, and always, insistently, linking global and U.S. domestic politics. She creates a picture of a nation that consistently uses dehumanization to normalize and rationalize violence in foreign policy, all the while creating a domestic climate that pathologizes blackness and sexuality, portraying those most vulnerable to violence as its carriers.

In the systematic and ubiquitous nature of state violence, however, James sees a possibility of hope in the building of coalitions across race, class, gender, and national divides. She argues that the very commonality that makes the system seem so overpowering can serve as the basis for resistance-that the elements that hold together a web of oppression and misuse of power also mark its vulnerabilities, especially when confronted with an equally systematic resistance.

James offers concrete solutions for the dilemmas facing progressive politics and the individuals who work to achieve social justice. Resisting State Violence is a clear-sighted and uncompromising guidebook for those who want to understand the forces that hinder social change, and to effectively move beyond them.

Resisting State Violence

Joy James teaches in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is author of Transcending the Talented Tenth: Black Leaders and American Intellectuals (1996) and coeditor (with Ruth Farmer) of Spirit, Space, and Survival: African American Women in (White) Academe (1993).

Resisting State Violence

“This new collection of essays, tightly woven together and forming a coherent whole, explores the interconnections between violence, political oppression, and U.S. foreign and domestic policies in the contemporary era. . . . Readers who may be sympathetic to James’s fierce critique of American political culture will find food for thought in her general analysis.” Library Journal

“Joy James writes for us as a teacher and activist. She takes us on an important odyssey from the U.S. to Panama to Cuba and back again. The journey is mapped self-consciously through a racialized and gendered eye. James demands we resist state violence and gives us hope that we can do so by building multi-racial international coalitions. Read her book to see her reasoned and impassioned arguments.”

“Joy James gets us to converse about the Central Park jogger rape trial in the same breath as we sort out the complex politics of international human rights feminism. There’s nothing ‘black-and-white’ about James’s activist theorizing.”

“Joy James is among the most thought-provoking progressive intellectuals in America today. James’s recent collection of essays, Resisting State Violence presents a powerful critique of contemporary issues from the perspective of race, class, and gender. The topics examined in the book range widely, from an overview of the Thomas-Hill controversy, to an insightful assessment of multiculturalism. James’s analysis points us towards a transformative cultural and political analysis, advancing the struggle for social justice in American society. Resisting State Violence should be well received by activists and scholars alike.”

“In Resisting State Violence, Joy James not only does us the immense service of shining analytical light into the deeper shadows of the American sociopolitical reality, she proves the conceptual weapons with which we may combat the vile creatures which scurry forth as a result. This book is indispensable reading for anyone in the least interested in attaining constructive change in the United States.” Ward Churchill, author of Draconian Measures: A History of F.B.I. Political Repression

“In this set of essays James, a new talent in progressive social analysis explores a range of gender and racial issues, with particular reference to how the US government often makes things worse. . . . Offers numerous insights on the role of the US government in shaping violence against people of color - from a perspective (that of an African American woman) not often heard in the academy or mass media.” Choice

“While from its beginning Resisting State Violence is highly illuminating and innovative, it is also illustrative of the type of discourse we should come to expect from many of most visible intellectual representatives.” Gaither Reporter

“While often times radical themes central to gaining insight into the historical experiences of African-American, Asian, Latno and non-privileged white women have been stamped by eclectic and academic jargon and viewed vicariously as subjects to be translated into literary commodities, James’s ideas appear to flow from personal histories of intellectual work as well as multiethnic, gendered and collective insurgency against racialized patriarchy, sexism and state violence.” Gaither Reporter

“In Resisting State Violence, she provides a beautifully rich and nuanced analysis that is especially important for those struggling for social justice today.” Dayton Voice

“Brilliant autobiographical volume. Through a conceptual examination of the processes of racism and sexism, [James] uncovers the invisible underside of ‘democracy’ as we know it. The transformation of Euro-American democracy into state violence is thus revealed.” Canadian Social Studies