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Speaker Series: Hye Yun Kang and Mary Ellen Stitt, ABF Doctoral Fellows

  • When: September 5, 2018, 12 pm–1:30 am
  • Where: ABF Woods Conference Room, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th floor, Lakeside, Chicago, IL 60611

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ABF Incoming Doctoral Fellows Presentations

Ambiguity of Law: The Uncomfortable Cohabitation of Law and Security

My project examines the legal interpretations of the Authorization of the Usage of Military Force (AUMF). The AUMF, signed into law by George W Bush on September 18, 2001 in the wake of the September 11 attacks, remains in place today, and has been used to justify military action in a number of countries--including Yemen and Kenya--by providing US presidents broad discretion in the use of military force without prior consultation of Congress. The AUMF facilitates war without declaration, which undermines the efforts to increase the legal accountability of security actions. Drawing on performance theories, this research gives an account of how legal interpretations of the AUMF provide a pathway to the condition of possibility that extra-judicial security practices are carried out in a legalized form. Building on my dissertation, this project investigates the intersections of law, politics, and security.

Photo and Bio Courtesy of Hye Yun Kang

Hye Yun Kang is a doctoral candidate in Political Science at Northwestern University and in Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris. Her research interests are in the politics of law and security and International Relations theory with a particular focus on critical theory. She currently focuses on the unintended consequences of the legal interpretation of security laws. This research project, based in part on her dissertation, investigates the practices of legal institutions in interpreting security laws, and how that generates an unexpected possibility of extra-judicial security measures. Drawing on the idea of performativity, she explores a new territory of security politics in which legal institutions provide a script of security action in a form of law enforcement. Hye Yun’s dissertation “The Politics of Security as Performance: The Korean War, the McCarthy Era, and Schengen,” shows how the script of security is enacted, disseminated, and revised. She received an M.A. in International Relations from Seoul National University and a B.A. in Political Science from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea.

Medicalizing Justice: Therapy in the Criminal Courts

Treatment-based interventions are on the rise in U.S. criminal courts. Prominent among them are pretrial diversion programs, which allow tens of thousands of felony defendants each year to avoid prosecution by completing a designated course of therapy and drug testing. Drawing support and funding from across the political spectrum, these programs play a key role in current efforts to decarcerate and to address public health concerns such as opioid addiction. But the implications of repurposing the penal system to deliver mental healthcare through diversion are still poorly understood. This talk draws on ten months of participant observation and 100 interviews with defendants, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and treatment providers to examine the re-definition and management of deviance in the context of court-mandated treatment.

Photo and Bio Courtesy of Mary Ellen Stitt

Mary Ellen Stitt is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research investigates state punishment and reform across a range of institutional domains. Her dissertation, “Therapeutic Alternatives in the Criminal Courts,” examines the growing use of therapy and drug testing as an alternative to criminal prosecution in the United States. She draws on qualitative and quantitative data to analyze the impacts of pretrial diversion programs on defendants, the processes shaping their administration, and their implications for decarceration and mental healthcare provision. Her work has appeared in Social Forces and Social Problems. She is a Harrington Graduate Fellow and a fellow in the UT-Austin Urban Ethnography Lab, where she is involved in a collective book project on rural political life. She holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and a B.A. in Spanish from Carleton College. Prior to returning to graduate school, she worked as a community organizer, literary translator, and participatory action research coordinator.

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