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Distributed for Dartmouth College Press

Enemies of All Humankind

Fictions of Legitimate Violence

Hostis humani generis, meaning “enemy of humankind,” is the legal basis by which Western societies have defined such criminals as pirates, torturers, or terrorists as beyond the pale of civilization. Sonja Schillings argues that the legal fiction designating certain persons or classes of persons as enemies of all humankind does more than characterize them as inherently hostile: it supplies a narrative basis for legitimating violence in the name of the state. The book draws attention to a century-old narrative pattern that not only underlies the legal category of enemies of the people, but more generally informs interpretations of imperial expansion, protest against structural oppression, and the transformation of institutions as “legitimate” interventions on behalf of civilized society. Schillings traces the Anglo-American interpretive history of the concept, which she sees as crucial to understanding US history, in particular with regard to the frontier, race relations, and the war on terror.

302 pages | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

Philosophy: Aesthetics


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments • Introduction • PART 1: THE EMPEROR AND THE PIRATE: LEGITIMATE VIOLENCE AS A MODERN DILEMMA • Augustine of Hippo: The City of God • Charles Johnson: A General History of the Pyrates • Charles Ellms: The Pirates’ Own Book • PART 2: RACE, SPACE, AND THE FORMATION OF THE HOSTIS HUMANI GENERIS CONSTELLATION • Piratae and Praedones: The Racialization of Hostis Humani Generis • John Locke, William Blackstone, and the Invader in the State of Nature • Hostis Humani Generis and the American Historical Novel: James Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer • PART 3: THE AMERICAN CIVILIZATION THESIS: INTERNALIZING THE OTHER • The Frontier Thesis as a Third Model of Civilization • The Democratic Frontiersman and the Totalitarian Leviathan • Free Agency and the Pure Woman Paradox • The Foundational Pirata in Richard Wright’s Native Son • PART 4: “IT IS UNDERNEATH US”: THE PLANETARY ZONE IN BETWEEN AS AN AMERICAN DILEMMA • The Institutional Frontier: A New Type of Criminal • Who Is Innocent? The Later Cold War Years • Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and the War on Terror • Conclusion • Abbreviations • Notes • Works Cited • Index

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