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About Mark S. Weiner
In 2001, I got married, bought a house, and began teaching at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, New Jersey. I adored my students, and I relished the opportunity to introduce them to the American constitutional tradition. But my commute to work was three hours door-to-door, and my life was getting out of balance. What's more, I was continually taken away from the basic questions that had drawn me to a scholar's life to begin with.
A Fulbright Fellowship through the U.S. Department of State brought me and my wife to a small town in northern Iceland. For five months, we lived a much slower, simpler life--it was beautiful--and the lack of institutional obligations freed me to share my passion for the study of legal differences far more than I ever could as a harried professor with an extreme commute. I asked myself, why not try to reproduce this life at home?
After some years of scrimping and saving, we made the leap. In 2012, I let my Dean know that I would not be returning the following year (thanks to his generosity, I am still formally on the faculty), and I moved my books from my office in New Jersey to our home in Connecticut.
Now I'm starting to blog on my website, Worlds of Law (www.worldsoflaw.com). The website is a forum in which I'll be sharing my interest in law around the world and exploring issues I could only consider at a glance as a professor. I'll be telling stories, commenting on contemporary events, and musing about legal history in ways that I hope you'll find exciting even--in fact, especially--if you have no previous knowledge about law. I hope that in time my posts will lead me to the subject of my next book.
If you'd like to learn more traditional information about my academic background, please visit my faculty page at Rutgers: law.newark.rutgers.edu/our-faculty/faculty-profiles/mark-s-weiner.
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Books By Mark S. Weiner
A revealing look at the role kin-based societies have played throughout history and around the world
A lively, wide-ranging meditation on human development that offers surprising lessons for the future of modern individualism, The Rule of the Clan examines the constitutional principles and cultural institutions of kin-based societies, from medieval Iceland to modern Pakistan.
Mark S. Weiner, an expert in constitutional law and legal history, shows us that true individual freedom depends on the existence of a robust state dedicated to the public interest. In the absence of a healthy state, he explains, humans naturally tend to create legal structures centered not on individuals but rather on extended family groups. The modern liberal state makes individualism possible by keeping this powerful drive in check—and we ignore the continuing threat to liberal values and institutions at our peril. At the same time, for modern individualism to survive, liberals must also acknowledge the profound social and psychological benefits the rule of the clan provides and recognize the loss humanity sustains in its transition to modernity.
Masterfully argued and filled with rich historical detail, Weiner's investigation speaks both to modern liberal societies and to developing nations riven by "clannism," including Muslim societies in the wake of the Arab Spring.
From a brilliant young legal scholar comes this sweeping history of American ideas of belonging and citizenship, told through the stories of fourteen legal cases that helped to shape our nation.
Spanning three centuries, Black Trials details the legal challenges and struggles that helped define the ever-shifting identity of blacks in America. From the well-known cases of Plessy v. Ferguson and the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings to the more obscure trial of Joseph Hanno, an eighteenth-century free black man accused of murdering his wife and bringing smallpox to Boston, Weiner recounts the essential dramas of American identity—illuminating where our conception of minority rights has come from and where it might go. Significant and enthralling, these are the cases that forced the courts and the country to reconsider what it means to be black in America, and Mark Weiner demonstrates their lasting importance for our society.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Americans Without Law shows how the racial boundaries of civic life are based on widespread perceptions about the relative capacity of minority groups for legal behavior, which Mark S. Weiner calls “juridical racialism.” The book follows the history of this civic discourse by examining the legal status of four minority groups in four successive historical periods: American Indians in the 1880s, Filipinos after the Spanish-American War, Japanese immigrants in the 1920s, and African Americans in the 1940s and 1950s.
Weiner reveals the significance of juridical racialism for each group and, in turn, Americans as a whole by examining the work of anthropological social scientists who developed distinctive ways of understanding racial and legal identity, and through decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that put these ethno-legal views into practice. Combining history, anthropology, and legal analysis, the book argues that the story of juridical racialism shows how race and citizenship served as a nexus for the professionalization of the social sciences, the growth of national state power, economic modernization, and modern practices of the self.