RICSRE Faculty Seminar Series - A Culture of Identity Choice: Assertions of Mixed Race, Transgender, and Other Identities and the Implications on Politics

Sponsored by The Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and others


Wednesday, May 18, 2016
12:00 pm – 1:15 pm
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Brandon Room, Black Community Services Center
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Event Details:

RICSRE Faculty Seminar Series with Natalie Masuoka, Associate Professor of Political Science, Tufts Unversity

While Americans have always connected with different social identities, today we find the assertions of identities such as “biracial,” “swirlies,” “boi,” and “transwomen” to be particularly significant.  What is notable about these types of identities is that they communicate a person’s preferred self-identification relating to individual features historically understood as rigid and inherent. Masuoka argues that Americans today increasingly embrace a culture of, what she calls, identity choice in the United States. In today’s post-Civil Rights context, Americans increasingly believe and accept the idea that individuals can choose identities that were once seen as immutable. This presentation will trace the historical developments that have led to this new cultural perspective and offer a discussion about the possible political implications. 

Natalie Masuoka's research specializes in the area of American racial and ethnic politics with a focus on political behavior, public opinion, and political psychology. Her work pays attention to the ways in which race, immigration, and identity influence political attitude formation among racial minorities; in particular, Asian Americans and Latinos. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. Her most recent book, The Politics of Belonging: Race, Public Opinion and Immigration (co-authored with Jane Junn, University of Chicago Press, 2013) seeks to explain why racial groups vary in how they think about immigration and immigration policy in the U.S. Rather than simply characterizing Americans as either nativist or not nativist, this book argues that controversies over immigration policy reflect questions over political membership and belonging to the nation. Through a historical analysis, the book traces how Americans have come to assume that there exists an inherent link between race and citizenship. Given these racial foundations of American identity, evidence shows that position in the racial hierarchy structures the context in which people make judgments about immigration policy.

This talk is part of the 2015-16 RICSRE Seminar Series Spotlight on Race and Politics, co-sponsored by the Institute on the Politics of Inequality, Race, and Ethnicity at Stanford (InsPIRES). The event is also co-sponsored by the American Politics Workshop, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and the Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

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