Americans Without Law
The Racial Boundaries of Citizenship
Publication Year: 2006
Americans Without Law shows how the racial boundaries of civic life are based on widespread perceptions about the relative capacity of minority groups for legal behavior, which Mark S. Weiner calls “juridical racialism.” The book follows the history of this civic discourse by examining the legal status of four minority groups in four successive historical periods: American Indians in the 1880s, Filipinos after the Spanish-American War, Japanese immigrants in the 1920s, and African Americans in the 1940s and 1950s.
Weiner reveals the significance of juridical racialism for each group and, in turn, Americans as a whole by examining the work of anthropological social scientists who developed distinctive ways of understanding racial and legal identity, and through decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that put these ethno-legal views into practice. Combining history, anthropology, and legal analysis, the book argues that the story of juridical racialism shows how race and citizenship served as a nexus for the professionalization of the social sciences, the growth of national state power, economic modernization, and modern practices of the self.
Published by: NYU Press
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This book contributes to the literature on American conceptions of race and citizenship from the perspective of the cultural history of law. My aim is to depict a specific language through which the racial character of civic belonging in the United States was understood from the late-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century, a way of speaking and thinking that I call “juridical racialism.” In sketching the contours of this...
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Wittgenstein, is “to imagine a form of life.”1 This book examines how one aspect of our national life, the racial limits of American civic belonging, was imagined and brought into being through a culturally potent and in stitutionally productive language of law. I call that language “juridical racialism,” and I believe it was a basic feature of the history of American...
1. Laws of Development, Laws of Land
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Although ethno-legal rhetoric has deep roots in the Western tradition, the discourse of juridical racialism formed in the United States only in the wake of the Civil War, when a confluence of historical developments created the ground for its emergence. Most important, the decades following the war saw the growing professionalization of a range of scientific and social scientific fields, and for anthropology, in particular...
2. Teutonic Constitutionalism and the Spanish-American War
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The closing years of the nineteenth century began a new era in American history, one of overseas empire, brought into being through the Spanish-American War. In a host of ways, this new era grew from the national experience with American Indians examined in chapter 1. As an economic matter, the war provided increased access to overseas markets and so furthered the process of economic growth begun with the redistribution of Indian lands in the West. As an ideological matter, U.S. contact...
3. The Biological Politics of Japanese Exclusion
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More than any other modern state, America traditionally has welcomed immigration, which forms its economic life-blood and provides the basis for the expansive conception of civic identity for which the country is known and admired today. The primary period under discussion in this chapter, the 1920s, however, witnessed a substantial departure from this tradition in relation to a group about which white Americans already...
4. Culture, Personality, and Racial Liberalism
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Contractual juridical racialism rested not only on a political vision of Anglo-Saxon racial supremacy, but also on theories of economic liberty ascendant at a particular stage in American capitalism. The Supreme Court’s economic substantive due process jurisprudence and Madison Grant’s anti-environmentalist model of racial-legal character were mutually supporting positions shaping the racial boundaries of...
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The opinion of the Court in Brown v. Board of Education effectively signaled the end of the juridical-racial tradition in American cultural history. With its reinterpretation of the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court established new terms for the civic inclusion of racial minorities in American constitutional law and facilitated a thoroughgoing change in popular racial thought, ferrying the United States to...
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About the Author
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Mark S. Weiner teaches constitutional law, legal history, and legal ethics at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, New Jersey. He is the author of...
Page Count: 205
Publication Year: 2006