Reparations After Identity Politics

Political Theory 33 (6):786-811 (2005)
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Abstract

The end of the twentieth century witnessed a resurgence of demands for reparations for slavery and segregation in the United States. At the same time, a chorus of prominent political theorists warned against the threat "identity politics" poses for democratic politics. This essay considers whether it is possible to construct an argument for reparations that responds to these concerns, particularly as they are articulated by Wendy Brown. To do so, I explore how Brown's analysis of the dangers of political organizing around "wounded identities" and of appealing to the state for redress might inform and be informed by arguments for black reparations.

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