Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This book would not have been possible without the support, friendship, and guidance of Joseph Pugliese (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia). I am extremely grateful for his unwavering encouragement and his political commitment to the urgency of academic writing, which has always challenged and...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

On November 9, 1925, proceedings began in a Westchester County, New York, courthouse, in the trial of Alice Rhinelander, née Jones. Alice’s husband, Leonard ‘‘Kip’’ Rhinelander, had filed for an annulment of their marriage one year earlier, only a month after the young couple’s wedding and at what seemed the...

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1. Racial Disciplinarity

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pp. 15-31

In the age of Reconstruction America, where slavery had been abolished and a new era of racial politics supposedly embarked upon, the presiding Judge in Scott v. Georgia (1869) emphatically declared that ‘‘the laws of civilization demand that the races be kept apart in this country.’’ He recited, here, the insistent...

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2. Racial Knowledges: Securing the Body in Law

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pp. 32-50

Racial distinctions based on supposed truths of color and blood were made from the earliest days of the North American colonies and confirmed in slavery, where blackness became synonymous with servitude and whiteness with freedom. In this chapter I trace the codification of these racial distinctions within...

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3. Passing through Racial Performatives

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pp. 51-72

Race and the laws regulating it have been premised on a paradox, or what can be understood as an internal contradiction. For there has been a belief that race is at once in plain sight and is yet potentially hidden. Race is seen to be a ‘truth’ that the body of the subject announces; the body is viewed as a legible text upon...

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4. Domesticating Liminality: Somatic Defiance in Rhinelander v. Rhinelander

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pp. 73-86

In 1924, the former laundress and nursemaid, Alice Jones, married Leonard Rhinelander, the scion of one of New York’s oldest and wealthiest families. In doing so, the New York Times (11 March 1925, 1) claimed, Alice ‘‘passe[d] over hundreds of persons on the fringes of society and [made] her debut therein...

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5. Passing Phantasms: Rhinelander and Ontological Insecurity

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pp. 87-105

Within the rhetoric of dominant racial logic, the signifying power of white skin has always required the concomitant verification of a subcutaneous claim to whiteness—‘pure’ white lineage. And, while ‘looking white’ might have granted one possession of whiteness without legal title, in order to possess fair legal title...

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6. Imagining Racial Agency

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pp. 106-123

Rhinelander seems to refuse the possibility that either Leonard or Alice might reimagine themselves, let alone the schematizations of race in early twentiethcentury America. Both are ostensibly recuperated in line with normalizing demands of race and the accompanying dictates of racial discipline. Both are...

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7. Practicing Problematization: Resignifying Race

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pp. 124-142

Racial passing ‘unsettles’ because it challenges accepted beliefs that race is stable and fixed, transparent and visually embodied. The act of passing represents a dissonance between the external racial signification of skin and the supposed internal racial truth that is made to inhere in blood. To pass-as-white is to...

Notes

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pp. 143-167

Bibliography

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pp. 169-179

Index

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pp. 181-184

About the Author

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