Understanding Law and Race as Mutually Constitutive: An Invitation to Explore an Emerging Field
Posted: 14 Nov 2010
Date Written: December 2010
This article argues that law and race coconstruct each other. The idea that race is socially constructed has become widely accepted, and studies increasingly have explored law's role in shaping racial categories, racial conflict, racial ideology, and the racial order. Fewer studies have utilized a well-developed concept of race to examine how it has affected legislation, legal processes, legal ideology, and so forth. To explore how law and race are mutually constitutive, I draw on examples from a dozen monographs (all but one published since 1999) that are in-depth case studies of how law and race have interacted in diverse geographical regions over the past 400years. Cumulatively, they present new insights about how law and race are coconstructed to reproduce and transform racial inequality in society. They represent an emerging genre of sociolegal studies that reveals how law and race shape each other in an ongoing, dialectic process.
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