Southern Mercy: Empire and American Civilization in Juvenile Reform, 1890-1944
From the late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century juvenile reformatories served as citizen-building institutions and a political tool of state racism in post-emancipation America. New South advocates cemented their regional affiliation by using these reformatories to showcase mercies which were racialized, gendered, and linked to sexuality.
Southern Mercy uses four historical examples of juvenile reformatories in North Carolina to explore how spectacles of mercy have influenced Southern modernity. Working through archival material pertaining to race and moral uplift, including rare photos from the private archives of Samarcand Manor (the State Home and Industrial Manor for Girls) and restricted archival records of reformatory racial policies, Annette Bickford examines the limits of emancipation, and the exclusions inherent in liberal humanism that distinguish racism in the contemporary "post-race" era.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 304 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
"Annette Louise Bickford inquires as to the degree of mercy that operated in early-twentieth century juvenile reform in the U.S. South … The book offers excellent archival research about the realities of life in mid-century juvenile reformatories… Her theoretical framework grounded in a critique of liberal humanism is intriguing and should raise interest especially among graduate students. "
Karin L. Zipf
The American Historical Review, Volume 123, Issue 3, 1 June 2018
"Southern Mercy is a fascinating study of North Carolina’s juvenile reform institutions from their founding to the World War II era…Bickford joins a broader conversation about Enlightenment-based liberal humanism as fundamentally underwritten by systemic racism and sexism."
Susan K. Cahn, SUNY Buffalo
The Journal of American History, Sept. 2018
"Who could doubt the value of mercy as a poignant response to injustice? In this fascinating history of juvenile reform in North Carolina, Annette Louise Bickford demonstrates the dangerous power of mercy to rejuvenate racist practices of discipline. Rich in archival detail, theoretical sophistication, and anti-racist commitment, Southern Mercy is a brilliant contribution to contemporary deliberations on the liberal-humanist underpinnings of the modern biopolitical state."
Robyn Wiegman, Professor, Literature Program, Duke University
"Southern Mercy provides fascinating insight on juvenile reformatories as well as the administrators who started and implemented them in North Carolina. Annette Louise Bickford has written an important contribution to the literature on race and gender in the southern United States."
Miroslava Chávez-García, Professor, Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara
"Annette Louise Bickford’s Southern Mercy is refreshingly original in its inquiry. The range of settings, made possible by her thorough research, makes for broad comparative possibilities."
David Roediger, Foundation Professor of American Studies, University of Kansas
Author InformationAnnette Bickford is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Science at York University.
Table of contents
Chapter 1: Swamp Island
Chapter 2: The Samarcand Arson Case
Chapter 3: The Energy of Despair
Chapter 4: The Merciful Executioner
Chapter 5: The Prodigal Son
Subjects and Courses