Associate Professor of Law
Formerly a practicing attorney representing low-income clients and community organizations, he has taught at Harvard and Northeastern law schools and at the University of Massachusetts and Wesleyan University.
His interests include civil and human rights, transnational migrations, and Latino and Latin American studies with special focus on Cuba, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.
This course is an introduction to US constitutional law through an extended interrogation of the notion of equality. By reading historical analyses and court opinions that reflect and shape debates about the proper place of the State in queer people's bedrooms and lives, we will gain basic familiarity with modes of legal analysis, constitutional politics and the law as a historically contingent system of power. Until 2003, consensual sex between adult same-gender partners was a felony in many states. Though bans on same-sex marriage were struck down in 2014, the Court was deeply divided on the issue. Full legal personhood for the gender-queer and trans remains elusive. We will examine and critique many of the legal arguments and political strategies that have been deployed to challenge this legal landscape of inequality, and question the normative assumptions of state regulation of sexuality and gender expression. The course will include readings of many of the key race, gender and sexual civil rights rulings of the Supreme Court on what it means to enjoy the "equal protection of the law" promised to "all persons" by the Fourteenth Amendment.
Millions of people are living outside the borders of their home countries as expatriates, migrant workers or transnational managers of the global economic order, as refugees, displaced persons fleeing violence and persecution, and as people without papers. Bodies are thus a key part of the package of the multiple transborder flows of globalization, and they are produced, differentiated and understood through discourses of citizenship, national security, and universal human rights that are frequently at odds. The course will investigate critical questions about the relations of power at issue in technologies of citizenship, surveillance, exclusion and resistance in an effort to understand the condition of being out of place in a globalized yet still strongly territorial world of nation-states.
Four 3-week modules will comprise the content: Cuban literature and culture, Racial dynamics, Social Inequality, and US-Cuba relations. Classes will be taught in simple academic Spanish and English; students will be free to ask questions, make comments or write their papers in either language. Guest lecturers will teach primarily in Spanish. Students will complete assigned readings and write four short integrative papers, one for each module. Guest lecturers will include Dra. Graziella Pogolotti on Alejo Carpentier and his influence on Cuban culture, Margarita Mateo on Cuban literature, Zuleica Romay on Color in Cuba and Lilia Nunez on the emergence of socioeconomic inequalities in post-Special Period Cuba.
As the ability to communicate depends largely on a good understanding of the culture, the Spanish course attempts to enhance students understanding, respect and appreciation for the rich traditions and customs of Cuba. The course tries to build the students' ability of language use, especially at a colloquial level, as well as on topics of daily conversation and current interest such as social life, family, culture, art, race, gender etc. The combination of Spanish classes and daily exchange at the students' home stays helps to provide the kind of language interaction in a real life situation that will permit them to expand the vocabulary and grammar studied in class and to develop some comfort speaking the Spanish language. Classes will focus on analyzing written articles, increasing vocabulary and having conversation and discussion in Spanish on various topics. Speakers will be invited to talk about their work. Documentary films and videos will be shown. Students will occasionally visit museums, cultural sites and performances and conduct small investigations on a cultural and social topic.
Who is a "person" before the law? Does the color of one's skin trump one's entitlement to rights? Do rights even matter? How has the judiciary participated in racializing the nation's "non-white" populations, and what ideological and material effects have its decisions produced? The course will help students develop answers to such questions through analysis of Supreme Court opinions purporting to determine the legal personhood of Native, African, Asian and Latino Americans, the incarcerated, immigrants, colonial subjects and those labeled enemies of the nation. In addition to court decisions, readings in critical race theory, political theory and history will deepen our inquiry.
This course proposes an interdisciplinary approach that critically engages a range of frameworks (geopolitical, historical, cultural) for a study of the complex and contested reality of Cuba. Displacing images of Cuba circulating in US popular and official culture, we examine the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality that have defined the Cuban nation. We propose to locate Cuba as part of the Caribbean (with its history of plantation economies and slavery), as part of Latin America (linked by a shared history of Spanish conquest, problematic republicanism and revolutionary movements), and as part of the African diaspora. We will explore how Cuba can be understood in relation to the U.S., and to its own diasporas in Miami and elsewhere. The course will engage with primary texts, historiography, literature, film, and music to examine Cuba within these multiple frameworks. Students will complete frequent short response essays and a research project. This course is required for students wishing to study in the Hampshire in Cuba semester program (open to all Five College students), and will provide support for framing independent projects and applications for the Cuba Semester. Though conducted in English, many readings will be available in Spanish and English and papers may be submitted in either language. Concurrent enrollment in a Spanish language class is strongly recommended.
War crimes, torture and genocides demonstrate all too frequently that "never again" remains an elusive ideal. What role does the international system of human rights and humanitarian law play in deterring abuses of power? We examine the debates over the definition, adjudication and punishment of such acts, and evaluate how effective domestic and international legal and extra-legal strategies can be in preventing such crimes in the future, redressing those that do occur, and shaping collective memory and reconciliation after the fact, often called transitional justice. The Nuremberg trial legacy, the ICC, and the approaches to justice after state violence in South Africa, Rwanda, the Balkans, Chile and Argentina, among others, will provide primary material for critical reflection. The course constitutes an introduction to international human rights discourses and to legal modes of analysis.
This course will examine the production of legal "others," through state policing of various kinds of borders, spatial as well as virtual, and including the creation of rightless and stateless populations. We will critique court opinions and statutes that attempt to define, regulate, contain, discipline and exclude (non)persons such as the undocumented worker/migrant, the refugee, the queer, the racialized and the "terrorist." Examples of this are US-led drone wars, extrajudicial state killings and extraordinary renditions of individuals, as well as discourses of the "guest-worker," the "illegal alien," the "enemy combatant," and the "insurgent." Readings in legal and political theory will help us deepen our understanding and help us develop critical stances.