☰ In this section

The Champion

July 2006 , Page 53 

Search the Champion Looking for something specific?

Preview of Member Only Content

For full access: login or Become a Member Join Now

The Capital Ethnography Project

By Jesse Cheng

Read more Capital Cases columns.

In 1978, Colin Turnbull posed a question to his fellow anthropologists: Could anthropology, as the discipline that purported to make sense of humankind, see the humanity in those whom society has condemned to death?

“[T]he approach of anthropology is dual — or should be,” he said. “As a science it looks for organization, structure, consistency…As a humanity it is concerned with values and with people. In this latter respect we have to deal with whether capital punishment is cruel and unusual.”1 If anthropology was to hold itself out as the academic spokes-discipline for the value of life — any life — and the need to understand all of humanity, then it had to start with those most vilified “others” right here at home.

For Turnbull, the question was a rhetorical one; the cruel and unusual nature of capital punishment seemed obvious to him. In his investigations of prisoners on death row, what he saw were bodies languishing in physical captivity — but what he witnessed was the human spiri

Want to read more?

The Champion archive is reserved for NACDL members.

NACDL members, please login to read the rest of this article.

Not a member? Join now.
Join Now
Or click here to see an overview of NACDL Member benefits.

See what NACDL members say about us.

To read the current issue of The Champion in its entirety, click here.

  • Media inquiries: Contact NACDL's Director of Public Affairs & Communications Ivan J. Dominguez at 202-465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org
  • Academic Requests: Full articles of The Champion Magazine are available for academic and research purposes in the WestLaw and LexisNexis databases.
Advertisement Advertise with Us

In This Section

Advertisement Advertise with Us