Cultural Pluralism, Identity Politics, and the Law

Austin Sarat and Thomas R. Kearns, Editors
How do moves to recognize ethnic and cultural identity affect the idea of equality before the law?


Cultural Pluralism, Identity Politics, and the Law asks us to examine carefully the relation of cultural struggle and material transformation and the law's role in both. The essays in this collection, written by scholars from a variety of disciplines and theoretical inclinations, challenge orthodox understandings of the nature of identity politics and join in contemporary debates about separatism and assimilation. They ask us to think seriously about the ways the law has been and continues to be implicated in these debates, addressing questions about the challenges posed to notions of legal justice and procedural fairness by cultural pluralism and identity politics; about the role played by the law in structuring the terms under which recognition, accommodation, and inclusion are accorded to groups in the United States; and about how accepted notions of the law are defined by an ideal of integration and assimilation.

Contributors are Lauren Berlant, Elizabeth B. Clark, Kenneth L. Karst, George Lipsitz, and Dorothy Roberts.

Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Chair of the Department of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, Amherst College.

Thomas R. Kearns is William H. Hastie Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, Amherst College.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . a stimulating and generally accessible collection of essays organized around a single issue. The promise of the law is that it will treat all individuals equally, without reference to difference. However, members of cultural minorities are injured in spite of their abilities, achievements or desires; they re injured precisely because of their minority identity. . . . It focuses on important arguments for those interested in probing the limits of t he law in relation to local, historicized or contextualized moral standpoints."
    —John Berteaux, University of California, San Diego, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, September 2000
  • ". . . offers diverse but intersecting perspectives on the contemporary dialogues of (predominantly) racial equality and the role of cultural diversity in intellectual, political, and legal strategies for social change. Although too few selections are included for the book to be seen as an anthology on the subjects of cultural diversity and law, it will likely be assessed as a significant contribution to debates that are likely to continue for years, if not decades, to come."
    —Gayle Binion, University of California, Santa Barbara, Law and Politics Book Reviews, Volume IX, No. 10, October 1999

Look Inside

Table of Contents:
  • Responding to the demands of difference : an introduction / Austin Sarat and Thomas R. Kearns
  • Breaking the mold of citizenship : the "natural" person as citizen in nineteenth-century America (a fragment) / Elizabeth B. Clark
  • The subject of true feeling : pain, privacy, and politics / Lauren Berlant
  • Why culture matters to law : the difference politics makes / Dorothy E. Roberts
  • Civil rights rhetoric and White identity politics / George Lipsitz
  • Does integration have a future? / Kenneth L. Karst.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 192pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2001
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08851-5

Add to Cart
  • $33.95 U.S.

Related Products