Caroline Light on “Stand Your Ground” | March 8, 2017

Mar 8, 2017
6pm - 7.30pm
CSRPC, 5733 S. University Ave.

free and open to the public; facebook event

Caroline Light (Harvard) on “Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense” with Jill Petty (Senior Editor, Beacon Press) and Marcus Lee (Doctoral Student, Political Science)


A history of America’s Stand Your Ground gun laws, from Reconstruction to Trayvon Martin

In the aftermath of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, conservative legislators and school administrators shocked some observers when they proposed armed “public school patrols” to protect children. Yet this kind of “DIY security” activism predates the contemporary gun rights movement. As Caroline Light proves, support for “good guys with guns” relies on the entrenched belief that certain “bad guys with guns” threaten us all.
Stand Your Ground explores the development of the American right to “self-defense,” and reveals how the “duty to retreat” from threat was transformed into a selective right to kill. In her rigorous genealogy, Light traces white America’s attachment to racialized, lethal self-defense, from the original “castle laws” to the radicalization of the NRA.
A convincing treatise on the United States’ deadly ascension as the world’s first Stand Your Ground nation, Light shows how violent self-defense has been legalized for the most privileged and made the most marginalized more vulnerable.
About the panelists: 

Caroline Light is director of undergraduate studies in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University.Prior to her arrival at Harvard, she worked at Duke University, where she taught courses in Gender and Sexuality Studies, First Year Writing, and in the Global Americas Focus Program. She also coordinated Duke's Institute for Critical U.S. Studies.

Light has a doctorate in history, with particular focus on gender, race, and sexuality in the U.S. South. Her teaching and research interests include transnational feminist histories; immigration; U.S. consumer culture; and intersections of citizenship, race, and sexuality in the United States. 

She is the author of That Pride of Race and Character: The Roots of Jewish Benevolence in the Jim Crow South, from New York University Press (2014). 

Jill Petty has worked in publishing for fifteen years, and joined Beacon in June 2015. She served as an editor-publisher for South End Press—working with Noam Chomsky, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, bell hooks, INCITE: Women, Gender Non-Conforming, and Transpeople of Color, Arundhati Roy, and other authors—and as a researcher and editor for The Nation and Ms. Before joining Beacon, Jill was a writer-editor for Equal Justice Initiative, the Alabama-based legal nonprofit led by Bryan Stevenson. She is a writing instructor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a member of the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project teaching collective.

Marcus Lee is a second-year doctoral student in Political Science at The University of Chicago, where he is a Ford Predoctoral Fellow, an American Political Science Association Minority Fellow and a Point Scholar. His research interests include race, gender and sexuality; American Political Development and political historiography; extra-systemic politics; and the bureaucracy. He is especially interested in black politics post-1968 – i.e. the emergence and development of different streams of black politics after King’s death; the production of historical narratives of the 70s, 80s and 90s; and the normative implications and political consequences of those narratives for our current moment. He is currently working on a separate project that traces the formative logic of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. 

event photos

Presented by the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture and Beacon Press.


This venue is physically accessible and has a gender-neutral restroom. Please contact the CSRPC at 773.702.8063 with any questions or accommodation requests.