Connecticut Law Review Volume 43 - Issue 5

History, Identity, and Alienation

This Commentary Article sets forth a grid for distinguishing between approaches to racial justice by differentiating between liberal and critical approaches in general, and between integrationist and nationalist stances regarding race in particular. The Article then utilizes the grid to contend that Kimberlé Crenshaw and others on the left wing of Critical Race Theory have accomplished a significant breakthrough in identity theory and nationalist practice by articulating a critical, historicist way to understand race. The Article then considers the criticism, lodged by some theorists claiming postmodern sophistication, that critical race theorists mistakenly attribute essentialist meaning to race. The Article concludes that this anti-essentialist criticism fails to comprehend differences between fundamentalist and critical identity projects and tends itself to assume the liberal individualism that forms the primary target of postmodern critical practices.

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