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Constructing the Enemy

Constructing the Enemy: Empathy/Antipathy in U.S. Literature and Law

Rajini Srikanth
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 205
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  • Book Info
    Constructing the Enemy
    Book Description:

    In her engaging book,Constructing the Enemy, Rajini Srikanth probes the concept of empathy, attempting to understand its different types and how it is-or isn't-generated and maintained in specific circumstances.

    Using literary texts to illuminate issues of power and discussions of law, Srikanth focuses on two case studies- the internment of Japanese citizens and Japanese Americans in World War II, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the detainment of Muslim Americans and individuals from various nations in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.

    Through primary documents and interviews that reveal why and how lawyers become involved in defending those who have been designated "enemies," Srikanth explores the complex conditions under which engaged citizenship emerges.Constructing the Enemyprobes the seductive promise of legal discourse and analyzes the emergence and manifestation of empathy in lawyers and other concerned citizens and the wider consequences of this empathy on the institutions that regulate our lives.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0325-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: The Landscape of Empathy
    (pp. 1-40)

    This book presents and charts the fraught terrain of empathy—in U.S. literature and law—specifically as it relates to “the enemy” at two historical moments: the Japanese Americans after the December 1941 bombing of pearl Harbor, and the Muslim men captured and detained in various locations in the current U.S. “global war on terror.” it poses the question “What will it take to generate a national ethos in which our construction and identification of ‘the enemy’ is carefully considered rather than hasty, informed by empathy rather than driven by unexamined antipathy, accompanied by scrupulous interrogation of our assumptions and...

  5. 1 Literary Imagination and American Empathy
    (pp. 41-72)

    Empathy is a relationally imaginative approach to living that underscores interdependence—whether of individuals, communities, or nations—and has at its foundation the call to imagine our lives always in the context of similar and dissimilar others. A crucial aspect of this relational imagining is the recognition of power and how it operates, particularly the asymmetrical power that inhibits empathy. I discuss asymmetrical power in the introduction to this book; here I take it up in greater detail. The literary texts that are the focus of this chapter are inhabited by two types of voices: (1) of those who have...

  6. 2 Deserving Empathy? Renouncing American Citizenship
    (pp. 73-103)

    In the short period between December 18, 1944, and mid-January 1945, several thousand—5,589—U.S. citizens of Japanese descent renounced their citizenship. most of them were among the internee population at the Tule lake internment facility in Newell, California, which had by this time become generally known to Americans as the camp to which “disloyal” Japanese Americans were sent (those who had answered “no” to questions 27 and 28 of the loyalty questionnaire that all internees over age eighteen were required to complete in 1943).¹ shortly after this act of giving up their U.S. citizenship, most of the renunciants regretted...

  7. 3 Hierarchies of Horror, Levels of Abuse: Empathy for the Internees
    (pp. 104-134)

    Emiko Omori, director of the documentary filmRabbit in the Moon(1999) on the internment experience of her family (her parents, herself, and her older sister), offers in voice-over narration one reason for the reluctance of the Japanese American community to talk about its wartime experience in the camps: “When we left the camps and found out what had happened in Germany, we felt we couldn’t really speak about our own suffering. it was not that what we had suffered wasn’t bad, but that it wasn’tbad enough” (emphasis heard in Omori’s voice). Considered alongside the Holocaust, the Japanese Americans’...

  8. 4 Guantánamo: Where Lawyers Connect with the “Worst of the Worst”
    (pp. 135-165)

    The location is Guantánamo Bay. the detainee, lawyer, paralegal, and translator form a quartet. this meeting, inside an interview/interrogation room, is unusual, because it results in the announcement of happy news. the detainee Adel, a former saudi Arabian police officer who was traveling to pakistan for eye surgery when he was captured, is finally being sent home. Adel hugs the lawyer, attorney Anant Raut, and thanks him. “I put my faith in Allah, . . . and Allah sent you” (qtd. in raut 2008, 14). Adel was in Guantánamo Bay for five years. Anant raut, formerly of the law firm...

  9. Conclusion: Prognosis: The Future of Empathy in the United States
    (pp. 166-172)

    On September 22, 2010, Eddie Daniels, antiapartheid activist and fellow prisoner on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, spoke at the University of Massachusetts Boston about his experience under apartheid and the circumstances that led him to join the resistance movement and subject himself to the dangers of imprisonment. Daniels thanked the world for the fall of apartheid. “Without you, we could not have done it,” he said. Though the primary force of the antiapartheid movement came from the oppressed groups and their white allies and from the African National Congress (ANC) membership and its leaders in exile, Daniels reminded the...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 173-184)
  11. References
    (pp. 185-198)
  12. Index
    (pp. 199-205)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 206-206)