"Reigning" in barbarians: Barbados, abolition activism, and death penalty classification

Brackette F. Williams

With right on their sides, international human rights organizations, working to abolish the death penalty, often do address whether the strategies they devise aid imperial domination. This essay considers how abolitionists, committed to a morally just cause, see victory and are pleased even when, from another view, their actions make them complicit in undermining the constitutional power of politically and economically weak states which, nonetheless inadequately, aid their citizens in other contests for freedom and justice. Lacking sufficient power to resist the bridle, as international classification infrastructure expands fewer persons in weak states have authority to participate in devising the classifications that shape visions of humane interaction within and across population, and must decide whether rights gained are worth the loss of cognitive freedom with which they pay.

Barbados; Activism; Death penalty; Classification; Imperialism


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