Censorship was once a predictable topic, with liberals and conservatives taking customary stances on either side of issues such as obscenity and national security. This simple political dichotomy no longer corresponds to debate about the regulation of speech. Today, feminists join forces with religious fundamentalists to control pornography, and abortion rights advocates seek to restrict clinic demonstrations while prolife groups defend their freedom to picket.
Underlying this trend is a fundamental intellectual shiftexemplified in the work of Michel Foucaultthat holds that the state is not the only agent of censorship. Indeed, expression is now censored by discursive practices, by the market, and by the whole range of institutions that comprise social life.
The thirteen authors of the volume explore the topic of censorship from the viewpoint of a number of disciplines, including cultural theory, feminist studies, literature, and anthropology, as well as law. The essays examine the use of police power to regulate communication; the establishment of authoritative public discourses, such as in public funding for science and art; and the censorship of speech so as to redress private imbalances of power.
Contributors are Wendy Brown, E. S. Burt, Richard Burt, Judith Butler, Lawrence Douglas, Ruth Gavison, Leslie Green, Rae Langton, Sanford Levinson, George E. Marcus, Frederick Schauer, Debora Shuger, and David Wasserman.
Robert C. Post is Alexander F. and May T. Marrison Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Constitutional Domains and Law and the Order of Culture.
Series: Issues & Debates