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Racial WorldmakingThe Power of Popular Fiction$
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Mark C. Jerng

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780823277759

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823277759.001.0001

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Racial Counterfactuals and the Uncertain Event of Emancipation

Racial Counterfactuals and the Uncertain Event of Emancipation

(p.161) Chapter 7: Racial Counterfactuals and the Uncertain Event of Emancipation
Racial Worldmaking

Mark C. Jerng

Fordham University Press

This chapter discusses alternate histories of the Civil War in relation to U.S. Equal Protection jurisprudence and race discrimination law. It shows how the racial counterfactual shapes what counts as discrimination in an important anti-affirmative action legal case, Ricci v. Destefano. In particular, it analyzes the prominent use of racial counterfactuals by the Supreme Court justices in order to organize the perception of race. It then surveys alternate histories of the U.S. Civil War and describes their logics of narrative explanation. Finally, it turns to Terry Bissons’ Fire on the Mountain and Steven Barnes’s Lion’s Blood as examples of a strategic use of the racial counterfactual in order to envision different understandings of racial freedom and equality.

Keywords:   Alternate history, Barnes, Steven, Lion’s Blood, Civil War, Race discrimination law, Racial counterfactuals, Ricci v. Destefano

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