HLS Library Book Talk: “Butterfly Politics”

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The minuscule motion of a butterfly’s wings can trigger a tornado half a world away, according to chaos theory. Under the right conditions, small simple actions can produce large complex effects.

On Sept. 18, the Harvard Law School Library hosted a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of “Butterfly Politics” (Belknap Press 2017), by Catharine A. MacKinnon, HLS’ James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law.

In the timely and provocative book, MacKinnon argues that the right seemingly minor interventions in the legal realm can have a butterfly effect that generates major social and cultural transformations.

The pieces collected in the book- many published for the first time- provide a new perspective on MacKinnon’s career as a pioneer of legal theory and practice and an activist for women’s rights. Its central concerns of gender inequality, sexual harassment, rape, pornography, and prostitution have defined MacKinnon’s intellectual, legal, and political pursuits for more than 40 years.

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