Law Text Culture


If Foucault's metropolitan world of public torture--"the great spectacle of physical punishment,"--died out by the beginning of the nineteenth century, the punitive spectacle and its requisite bodies were resurrected in the colonies. Given the lack of precedents in English law, the speed with which the institution of slavery took shape in the United States and the severity of the laws that effected it are exceptional. Although strategies of divestment were already present in the rights of property and privilege at common law, and later tied to the definition of property in persons; black slaves, regarded as outside the social order, gave new genetic capital to the principles of tainted blood, bondage, and servility.