Category Archives: Books

New Book: “Social and Economic Rights in Theory and Practice: Critical Inquiries”

CriticalNew Book: Social and Economic Rights in Theory and Practice: Critical Inquiries (Helena Alviar García, Karl Klare & Lucy A. Williams eds. 2014).  From the publisher:

Since World War II, a growing number of jurisdictions in both the developing and industrialized worlds have adopted progressive constitutions that guarantee social and economic rights (SER) in addition to political and civil rights. Parallel developments have occurred at transnational level with the adoption of treaties that commit signatory states to respect and fulfil SER for their peoples.

This book is a product of the International Social and Economic Rights Project (iSERP), a global consortium of judges, lawyers, human rights advocates, and legal academics who critically examine the effectiveness of SER law in promoting real change in people’s lives. The book addresses a range of practical, political, and legal questions under these headings, with acute sensitivity to the racial, cultural, and gender implications of SER and the path-breaking SER jurisprudence now emerging in the “Global South”.

The book brings together internationally renowned experts in the field of social and economic rights to discuss a range of rights controversies from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Contributors of the book consider specific issues in the litigation and adjudication of SER cases from the differing standpoints of activists, lawyers, and adjudicators in order to identify and address the specific challenges facing the SER community.

This book will be of great use and interest to students and scholars of comparative constitutional law, human rights, public international law, development studies, and democratic political theory.

New Book: “The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood”

FinalLongShadow-AlexanderNew Book: Karl Alexander et al., The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood (2014).  Overview below:

West Baltimore stands out in the popular imagination as the quintessential “inner city”—gritty, run-down, and marred by drugs and gang violence. Indeed, with the collapse of manufacturing jobs in the 1970s, the area experienced a rapid onset of poverty and high unemployment, with few public resources available to alleviate economic distress. But in stark contrast to the image of a perpetual “urban underclass” depicted in television by shows like The Wire, sociologists Karl Alexander, Doris Entwisle, and Linda Olson present a more nuanced portrait of Baltimore’s inner city residents that employs important new research on the significance of early-life opportunities available to low-income populations. The Long Shadow focuses on children who grew up in west Baltimore neighborhoods and others like them throughout the city, tracing how their early lives in the inner city have affected their long-term well-being. Although research for this book was conducted in Baltimore, that city’s struggles with deindustrialization, white flight, and concentrated poverty were characteristic of most East Coast and Midwest manufacturing cities. The experience of Baltimore’s children who came of age during this era is mirrored in the experiences of urban children across the nation.

For 25 years, the authors of The Long Shadow tracked the life progress of a group of almost 800 predominantly low-income Baltimore school children through the Beginning School Study Youth Panel (BSSYP). The study monitored the children’s transitions to young adulthood with special attention to how opportunities available to them as early as first grade shaped their socioeconomic status as adults. The authors’ fine-grained analysis confirms that the children who lived in more cohesive neighborhoods, had stronger families, and attended better schools tended to maintain a higher economic status later in life. As young adults, they held higher-income jobs and had achieved more personal milestones (such as marriage) than their lower-status counterparts. Differences in race and gender further stratified life opportunities for the Baltimore children. As one of the first studies to closely examine the outcomes of inner-city whites in addition to African Americans, data from the BSSYP shows that by adulthood, white men of lower status family background, despite attaining less education on average, were more likely to be employed than any other group in part due to family connections and long-standing racial biases in Baltimore’s industrial economy. Gender imbalances were also evident: the women, who were more likely to be working in low-wage service and clerical jobs, earned less than men. African American women were doubly disadvantaged insofar as they were less likely to be in a stable relationship than white women, and therefore less likely to benefit from a second income.

Combining original interviews with Baltimore families, teachers, and other community members with the empirical data gathered from the authors’ groundbreaking research, The Long Shadow unravels the complex connections between socioeconomic origins and socioeconomic destinations to reveal a startling and much-needed examination of who succeeds and why.

New Book: “We Want What’s Ours: Learning from South Africa’s Land Restitution Program”

WeWantNew Book: Bernadette Atuahene, We Want What’s Ours: Learning from South Africa’s Land Restitution Program (2014).  Overview below:

Millions of people all over the world have been displaced from their homes and property. Dispossessed individuals and communities often lose more than the physical structures they live in and their material belongings, they are also denied their dignity. These are dignity takings, and land dispossessions occurring in South Africa during colonialism and apartheid are quintessential examples. There have been numerous examples of dignity takings throughout the world, but South Africa stands apart because of its unique remedial efforts. The nation has attempted to move beyond the more common step of providing reparations (compensation for physical losses) to instead facilitating dignity restoration, which is a comprehensive remedy that seeks to restore property while also confronting the underlying dehumanization, infantilization, and political exclusion that enabled the injustice. Dignity restoration is the fusion of reparations with restorative justice. In We Want Whats Ours, Bernadette Atuahenes detailed research and interviews with over one hundred and fifty South Africans who participated in the nations land restitution program provide a snapshot of South Africas successes and failures in achieving dignity restoration.

We Want What’s Ours is globally relevant because dignity takings have happened all around the world and throughout history: the Nazi confiscation of property from Jews during World War II; the Hutu taking of property from Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide; the widespread commandeering of native peoples property across the globe; and Saddam Husseins seizing of property from the Kurds and others in Iraq are but a few examples. When people are deprived of their property and dignity in years to come, the lessons learned in South Africa can help governments, policy makers, scholars, and international institutions make the transition from reparations to the more robust project of dignity restoration.

Upcoming Event and New Book: “Income Support for the Poorest: A Review of Experience in Eastern Europe and Central Asia”

Income SupportUpcoming Event and New Book: The World Bank has published a new book, Emil Tesliuc et al., Income Support for the Poorest: A Review of Experience in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (2014) and is also hosting a related book panel on July 9 from 3-4:30pm at the World Bank in Washington, D.C (Auditorium J1-050; World Bank J Building, 701 18th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20433; RSVP

-Thanks to Paul Prettitore for the the heads up!

New Book: “Failure to Flourish: How Law Undermines Family Relationships”

HuntingtonNew Book: Clare Huntington, Failure to Flourish: How Law Undermines Family Relationships (2014).  Description below:

Exploring the connection between families and inequality, Failure to Flourish: How Law Undermines Family Relationships argues that the legal regulation of families stands fundamentally at odds with the needs of families. Strong, stable, positive relationships are essential for both individuals and society to flourish, but from transportation policy to the criminal justice system, and from divorce rules to the child welfare system, the legal system makes it harder for parents to provide children with these kinds of relationships, exacerbating the growing inequality in America.

Failure to Flourish contends that we must re-orient the legal system to help families avoid crises and, when conflicts arise, intervene in a manner that heals relationships. To understand how wrong our family law system has gone and what we need to repair it, Failure to Flourish takes us from ancient Greece to cutting-edge psychological research, and from the chaotic corridors of local family courts to a quiet revolution under way in how services are provided to families in need. Incorporating the latest insights of positive psychology and social science research, the book sets forth a new, more emotionally intelligent vision for a legal system that not only resolves conflict but actively encourages the healthy relationships that are at the core of a stable society.

Teacher’s Manual for Brodie et al., Poverty Law, Policy, and Practice (2014) now available

Poverty Law CoverFor those adopting or thinking about adopting Poverty Law, Policy, and Practice (2014), the chapter-by-chapter teacher’s manual is now available on the publisher’s website under “Professor Materials.”    To get access to the teacher’s manual, feel free to email any of us (Juliet Brodie, Clare Pastore, Ezra Rosser, and Jeffrey Selbin) or contact your Aspen representative.   The front matter is here:  We are also happy to discuss the book and teaching poverty law with anyone who is considering the book and/or the class.  Our hope is that the book (and the teacher’s manual) will be of use and will help more schools and  professors offer the class.

Call for Poverty Book Manuscripts (framed as the CROP International Studies in Poverty Prize 2014)

Zed Books in connection with CROP has a call for submissions of book manuscripts related to poverty, with a deadline of Aug. 31, 2014.  (They want manuscripts to be in the 80,000-100,000 word range.)  Their list of prior books can be found here and includes notably Lucy Williams’ International Poverty Law – An Emerging Discourse (2011).

Interesting Op-Ed: The Piketty Panic –

Interesting Op-Ed: The Piketty Panic –  [Includes nice links and is convincing that Capital in the Twenty-First Century is well worth reading.]

New Book: “America’s Growing Inequality: The Impact of Poverty and Race”

New Book: America’s Growing Inequality: The Impact of Poverty and Race (Chester Hartman, ed., Lexington Books, 2014).  Overview below:

The book is a compilation of the best and still-most-relevant articles published in Poverty & Race, the bimonthly of The Poverty & Race Research Action Council from 2006 to the present. Authors are some of the leading figures in a range of activities around these themes. It is the fourth such book PRRAC has published over the years, each with a high-visibility foreword writer: Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Bill Bradley, Julian Bond in previous books, Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Chicago for this book. The chapters are organized into four sections: Race & Poverty: The Structural Underpinnings; Deconstructing Poverty and Racial Inequities; Re(emerging) Issues; Civil Rights History.

Table of Contents after the jump…

Continue reading

Publication Announcement: Poverty Law Textbook!

Poverty Law CoverI am very excited to report that Juliet Brodie, Clare Pastore, Ezra Rosser & Jeffrey Selbin, Poverty Law: Policy and Practice (2014) has been published by Aspen / Wolters Kluwer [The Amazon link is here].   The textbook is the first poverty law textbook to be published in more than a decade, the last book was the Nice/Trubek Poverty Law textbook (1997 with a 1999 supplement), and though there were a number of poverty law books in the 1970s, this has not been a crowded field.   We hope that many of you find the book a great resource and that the existence of such a book leads to more poverty law classes being offered.

I am going to not speak anymore on behalf of my co-authors (here is an interview Jeff did about the book), but I do want to say a bit more about both the book and about working on such a book.  First, let me say that putting together such a book is an eye-opening experience.  It requires reading a great number of articles, cases, and reports, looking for good items for including in the book as well as trying to make sure that things or areas were not overlooked, even though it is impossible in such an activity not to overlook things or to gloss over things that could have used more space.  So it has been a humbling and great learning experience.   It also involves tough choices as to coverage, organization, and depth.  It also can seem like it never ends—right now as I write this, I am doing so at some risk that I will not complete all that I want to complete in the chapter of the teacher’s manual (which we hope to finish at the end of this month) that I am working on now—which is why it was so thrilling to get my copy of the book in the mail this week.

When I was contemplating whether to work on a poverty law textbook, a colleague of mine told me that the most important consideration was whether I was going to get along with my co-authors.  And looking back, working together with Juliet, Clare, and Jeff has been by far the most valuable and enjoyable part of working on the book.  As the most junior person and only non-clinician on the book, it was a great to be able to learn from people who have much more experience and are committed social activists.  Though we worked on the book entirely through email, dropbox, and conference calls, doing the book allowed me to hear what they thought were the most important things about poverty and about particular programs.  And we talked a lot.  In my frequent desperate searches for a way to get a strong enough internet signal to call in to our call, I called in from a Pizza Hut in San Salvador, El Salvador, a Starbucks in Kyoto, Japan, another Starbucks in Istanbul, Turkey, as well as a failed effort to call from a desert shop in Antigua, Guatemala.  And Juliet, Clare, and Jeff forgave me, I think, for the times when the connection was poor or my toddler was talking in the background.  But there is no question that the highlight of the book was working with them and even if no one adopts it, it was still worthwhile for me because of that.

Poverty law can be a depressing class or topic.  Big wins are rare before the Supreme Court and the politics of blaming the poor continues to be quite prevalent (though the rising awareness of inequality offers some hope that the politics may change).  We tried to deal with the depressing nature of the class in part by ending the book with two chapters, one on economic approaches and another on human rights, which are a bit different from the standard narrative of a New Deal or Great Society program under threat.  But overall, I do not believe the book is depressing.  If anything, getting students to study this material, to take it seriously—despite Scalia’s views on the class—can be uplifting and rewarding.  There is a depressing part of the book for me, and it comes early on.  My portion of the dedication page is a dedication to Mario Castro Tablas, my father-in-law, who died at the end of last year as we finished up the last parts of the book.  My wife’s loss is tremendous and mine is only a fraction of that.  But while it may seem a bit pathetic to say this, after all who doesn’t have closer friends one’s own age, in many ways Mario was the best friend that I have had since law school.  My wife is from El Salvador and we try our best to live there most summers, the December holiday, and during any research leaves that I have.  We now have a house there, built by Mario in the year before his death, but for most of our visits before then, we lived with my in-laws.  And as anyone who has lived with their in-laws knows, that can be frustrating, but in my case the good dramatically outweighed any awkward moments (like running into the yard in boxers after a minor Earthquake as my soon to be in-laws ate breakfast).  So I am going to end this with a brief note I wrote after Mario died:

All my life, my grandfather has been my example of the type of husband I want to be, but in many ways Mario is my example of the type of father and man I want to be.  I am arrogant enough to say that he and I have many traits in common, some good and some bad.  We are, or were, both self-confident (to put it nicely), smart, stubborn, intellectually curious, and a bit machito.  But Mario was also more free with his emotions, more free to enjoy life (and to enjoy parties), and more able, even in rough circumstances, to embrace the beauty of the here-and-now.  He easily could relate to people on their level and, at the same time, he could be very deliberate in what he said when he wanted to make an important point, taking what could seem a painfully long time to make a point but doing so in a way that also showed respect for importance of thinking before speaking.  In short, he was and will always be somebody I deeply admire and, more importantly, someone I love immensely.  But though the feelings are still too raw for this to be true and my heart too weak, I hope to take comfort and joy in the fact that he is also still around me, for I can see him in Elvia [my wife], Mateo [my son], . . . and even in myself.

My part of this book is dedicated with love to Mario.