Rajini Srikanth Publishes Constructing the Enemy: Empathy/Antipathy in U.S. Literature and Law
April 13, 2012
In her engaging book, Constructing the Enemy, published by the Temple University Press, Professor of English Rajini Srikanth, who possesses expertise in human rights and literature, probes the concept of empathy, attempting to understand its different types and how it is—or isn't—generated and maintained in specific circumstances.
Using literary texts to illuminate issues of power and discussions of law, Srikanth focuses on two case studies— the internment of Japanese citizens and Japanese Americans in World War II, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the detainment of Muslim Americans and individuals from various nations in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Daniel Kanstroom, professor of law, director of the International Human Rights Program, and an associate director of the Boston College Center for Human Rights and International Justice, says, "Constructing the Enemy is a fascinating book—nuanced and engaging—that weaves together legal theory, the realities of legal practice, historical vignettes, and literary analysis. Srikanth artfully straddles disciplines and adds important new insights. Her refined, subtly developed topic is quite timely, and her ideas about empathy/antipathy are both challenging and accessible."
Through primary documents and interviews that reveal why and how lawyers become involved in defending those who have been designated “enemies,” Srikanth explores the complex conditions under which engaged citizenship emerges. Constructing the Enemy probes the seductive promise of legal discourse and analyzes the emergence and manifestation of empathy in lawyers and other concerned citizens and the wider consequences of this empathy on the institutions that regulate our lives.