Against the Grain

Interrogating Complicity

Why has the term complicity become so ubiquitous in recent years? Are we all complicit in the system that we live under? What use, or uses, does the notion serve? These are questions that legal scholar Francine Banner poses. She makes the argument that the term bears different meanings, sometimes holding the powerful to account and other times looking for someone to blame, rather than focusing on systemic change. She considers the shifting modern use of complicity — shaped in part by problematic scholarship on the uncaring bystander — and sees parallels in how the legal system severely penalizes those for even peripheral involvement in crimes. (Encore presentation.)


Francine Banner, Beyond Complicity: Why We Blame Each Other Instead of Systems UC Press, 2024