This course develops understandings of the dynamics and consequences of power differentials, inequalities, and divisions among cultural groups through the lens of criminal and civil law in US state and federal law. In both criminal and civil contexts, students examine the feasibility of legal pl uralism in three types of cases: intra-cultural, inter-cultural, and no-longer accepted cultural practices in an intra-cultural event. In the criminal context, students consider criminalization of culturally appropriate acts of non-mainstream cultural communities, the "cultural defense," and the role of law as an instrument of tolerance or tyranny. In the civil context, students examine taboo language, reappropriation or reclaiming of words, and law. Students examine law as a cultural artifact, including who it favors and who it silences or punishes, in tandem with its production of knowledge related to "right and wrong." This course promotes critical engagement with the nature of law, the role of the state and its police powers to regulate disputes between diverse groups, and institutionalized power. This is a seminar-based course, requiring active student participation. Students learn to discuss cultural differences in the legal context and consider their own cultural perspectives vis-a-vis "the law." Satisfies the Knowledge, Identity and Power graduation requirement.
Prerequisites: BUS 340 or any university level course in US state and/or federal government, law, or legal studies.