Injury offers the first sustained anthropological analysis and critique of American injury law. The book approaches injury law as a symptom of a larger American injury culture, rather than as a tool of social justice or as a form of regulation. In doing so, it offers a new understanding of the problematic role that law plays in constructing Americans' relations with the objects they consume.
Through lively historical analyses of consumer products and workplace objects ranging from cigarettes to cheeseburgers and computer keyboards to airbags, Jain lucidly illustrates the real limits of the product safety laws that seek to redress consumer and worker injury. The book draws from a wide range of materials to demonstrate that American law sets out injury as an exceptional state, one that can be redressed through imperfect systems of monetary compensation. Injury demonstrates how laws are unable to accommodate the ways in which physical differences among citizens are imposed by the physical objects of culture that distribute risk differently among populations. The book moves between detailed accounts of individual legal cases; historical analyses of advertising, product design, regulation, and legal history; and a wide reading of cultural theory.
Drawing on an extensive knowledge of law and social theory, this innovative book will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in design, consumption, and the politics of injury.
"Sarah Lochlann Jain's book puts the 'jury' back into injury. . . . Injury cross-fertilizes several different areas, including but not limited to cultural anthropology, the history of product design, and law and society."--Simon A. Cole, Technology and Culture
"With the provocative use of real-world examples, Injury is a first-rate work of critique. It should be on the reading list of anyone interested in the civil justice system . . . regardless of their position on the issues."--Stephen Daniels, Law and Society Review
"In her astonishingly incisive book, Injury, Sarah Lochlann Jain brushes aside a century of jaded debates on what should count as injury for legal compensation. . . . Injury is perhaps the most important anthropological work on law and human wounding."--Aneesh Aneesh, Political and Legal Anthropology Review
"Anthropologist Sarah S. Lochlann Jain's book . . . Is a provocative, sophisticated, and ambitious analysis of the cultural logic of contemporary US product injury law and what Jain terms 'American injury culture.'"--William T. Gallagher, Law & Politics Book Review
"I recommend Injury to lawyers who want to gain deeper insight into why we sometimes expect to receive a favorable result for our clients under the existing body of law, yet we lose the case on what seems to be an unjust application of that law to our clients' facts."--James McLaughlin, Trial Magazine
"While the work may deceptively seem a work in cultural anthropology, it deftly defies easy categorization. It is at once a work of discourse analysis, law and society, politics of health, and rhetoric; this is a remarkable book on every level. Injury not only serves cultural studies of law, but would benefit scholars and practitioners of tort law."--Bradley Bryan, Law, Culture and the Humanities
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Injury in U.S. Risk Culture 1
Chapter 1: American Injury Culture 33
Chapter 2: Sentience and Slavery The Struggle over the Short-Handled Hoe 60
Chapter 3: Keyboard Design The Litigation Wave of the 1990s 86
Chapter 4: "Come Up to the 'Kool' Taste" African American Upward Mobility and the Semiotics of Smoking Menthols 124