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Cultural Pluralism, Identity Politics, and the Law

Austin Sarat and Thomas R. Kearns, Editors

Publication Year: 1999

We are witnessing in the last decade of the twentieth century more frequent demands by racial and ethnic groups for recognition of their distinctive histories and traditions as well as opportunities to develop and maintain the institutional infrastructure necessary to preserve them. Where it once seemed that the ideal of American citizenship was found in the promise of integration and in the hope that none of us would be singled out for, let alone judged by, our race or ethnicity, today integration, often taken to mean a denial of identity and history for subordinated racial, gender, sexual or ethnic groups, is often rejected, and new terms of inclusion are sought. The essays in Cultural Pluralism, Identity Politics, and the Law ask us to examine carefully the relation of cultural struggle and material transformation and law's role in both. Written by scholars from a variety of disciplines and theoretical inclinations, the essays challenge orthodox understandings of the nature of identity politics and contemporary debates about separatism and assimilation. They ask us to think seriously about the ways law has been, and is, implicated in these debates. The essays address questions such as the challenges posed for notions of legal justice and procedural fairness by cultural pluralism and identity politics, the role played by law in structuring the terms on which recognition, accommodation, and inclusion are accorded to groups in the United States, and how much of accepted notions of law are defined by an ideal of integration and assimilation. The contributors are Elizabeth Clark, Lauren Berlant, Dorothy Roberts, Georg Lipsitz, and Kenneth Karst.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: The Amherst Series in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought


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p. vii

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Responding to the Demands of Difference: An Introduction

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pp. 1-26

As the twentieth century draws to a close, we are witnessing the growing assertiveness of racial, ethnic, and other social groups both in the United States and abroad.1 These groups are demanding recognition of their distinctive histories and traditions as well as opportunities to develop and maintain the institutional infrastructure necessary to preserve ...

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Breaking the Mold of Citizenship: The “Natural” Person as Citizen in Nineteenth-Century America (A Fragment)

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pp. 27-48

Mary Wollstonecraft once said, probably with a sigh, "I do earnestly wish to see the distinction of sex confounded in society, unless where love animates the behavior." Two centuries later, many groups in American political life are still caught in the same dilemma: hoping that a just society will take account of an essential characteristic-race and ...

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The Subject of True Feeling: Pain, Privacy, and Politics

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pp. 49-84

Ravaged wages and ravaged bodies saturate the global marketplace in which the United States seeks desperately to compete "competitively," as the euphemism goes, signifying a race that will be won by the nations whose labor conditions are most optimal for profit.2 In the United States the media of the political public sphere regularly register ...

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Why Culture Matters to Law: The Difference Politics Makes

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pp. 85-110

Why does culture matter to law? Notice I have not bothered to ask whether culture does in fact matter. As I will soon elaborate, critical legal scholars have definitively shown that neutral legal principles that pretend to disregard culture in fact privilege dominant cultural norms. This has also been the result of court decisions that place culture outside ...

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Civil Rights Rhetoric and White Identity Politics

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pp. 111-139

In their 1993 book, The Scar of Race, Paul M. Sniderman and Thomas Piazza mobilize scholarly arguments in support of neoconservative understandings of the changing nature of race in the United States. "A generation ago" they argue, "the issue of race was, through and through, a matter of right versus wrong. It was wrong-unequivocally ...

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Does Integration Have a Future?

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pp. 139-168

Now I do understand that everyone of these abstractions can bear more than one meaning.1 But, even without any further specification of meanings, a great many Americans-including those who use the terms in debating public issues-are pretty sure they are for some of these policies or practices and against others, perhaps even strongly for ...


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pp. 169-170


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pp. 171-179

E-ISBN-13: 9780472023769
E-ISBN-10: 0472023764
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472088515
Print-ISBN-10: 0472088513

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 1999

Series Title: The Amherst Series in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought
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OCLC Number: 631263057
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Cultural Pluralism, Identity Politics, and the Law