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The Politics of the Illegal: Everyday Illegalisms, The Criminalization of Life, and the Limits of the Language of War

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While the work of some historians and political scientists has reflected that everyday illegal activity may sometimes be considered a political matter, there has yet to be a rigorous justification at the level of theory for why it may be considered so. To the contrary, the realm of the political is largely assumed to be necessarily limited to that which is visible and representable, that which ultimately culminates in the use of state power, and that which is grounded in properly legal processes. This dissertation theorizes the political content and import of illegal contestation by the poor over resources—phenomena typically glossed as criminal theft—through attentiveness to its historical criminalization, its conceptual representation under modernity, counter-representations of it produced by social movements, and the lived reality of law-breaking as socially experienced and popularly distributed.

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This item is under embargo until September 22, 2032.