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The Road to Abolition?The Future of Capital Punishment in the United States$
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Charles J. Jr. Ogletree and Austin Sarat

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814762172

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814762172.001.0001

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Making Difference

Making Difference

Modernity and the Political Formations of Death

(p.319) 10 Making Difference
The Road to Abolition?

Peter Fitzpatrick

NYU Press

This chapter maps a “road to abolition” of the death penalty that follows the trajectory of modern political formation. It first examines the telos of the “road to abolition” and how self-styled “modern” political formations both sustain and counter the death penalty. It begins by considering three orientations of political formation and antinomy in some of the recent literature on capital punishment: exceptionalism, sovereignty, and death. It then brings such orientations together in an account of the political formation of modernity and goes on to discuss two opposing possibilities at the end of the “road to abolition”: an adoption of “hyperdeterminacy” and the resulting assumption of “a confident competence to deal death,” and the acceptance of “responsiveness to life that is imperative for our being-together in modernity.” It argues that modern political formation and the death penalty are incompatible, and that the latter must be excluded from state practices.

Keywords:   abolition of death penalty, political formation, death penalty, exceptionalism, sovereignty, death, modernity, hyperdeterminacy, capital punishment

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