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Critique Essay History Law/Legal Nonfiction Other

Book Review Colin Dayan, The Law is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons

By Dean Spade, 2013

In ‘The Law is a ‘White Dog, Colin Dayan explores relationships between what are often considered separate and distinct areas and eras of legal history and substance, exposing important connections. Her aim is to trace the development and transformation of various hierarchical statuses of personhood in American law. To do so, she explores slave law, torture, 81h Amendment cases about conditions of confinement in prisons, civil law consequences in criminal punishment, and the legal statuses of dogs. Dayan artfully navigates historical and contemporary developments in contract, tort, property, constitutional, trusts and estates, and criminal law concerning people and animals that have been afforded complex and shifting statuses and capacities in law-those considered people and property, or a strange and hybrid form of property, or determined to lack legally recognizable mental capacities sufficient for civil action.

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