Afrodescendants, Law, and Race in Latin America
Book Chapter, "Law and Race in Latin America," in Handbook of Law and Society in Latin America, eds. Tatiana Alfonso, Karina Ansolabehere, and Rachel Sieder (Routledge 2019).
28 Pages Posted: 4 May 2020
Date Written: April 30, 2020
Law and Society research in and about Latin America has been particularly beneficial in elucidating the gap between the ideals of racial equality laws in the region and the actual subordinated status of its racialized subjects. This chapter maps recurring research themes in the race-related socio-legal literature, mostly focusing on studies about afro-descendant populations and the ways in which states throughout the region have dealt with ideas of race and racial discrimination. I organize this literature according to the analysis of what Latin American states have achieved –or not- in addressing racial inclusion, racial discrimination, and racial equality through reparations and affirmative action. As a result, I identify three sets of sociolegal debates: the limits of multicultural constitutional reform for full political participation; the limits of the Latin American emphasis on criminal law to redress discriminatory actions; and the challenges to implementing race conscious public policies such as affirmative action. Following my mapping of the field, I signal the resistance of legal systems to enforcing anti-discrimination measures in order to show that future research should interrogate the judicial presumption that racial violence does not and has not existed in Latin America, and the resulting social is empowerment of not naming violence as racial.
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