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NEIL GOTANDA, Western State College of Law at Argosy University

  • When: May 17, 2017, 12 pm
  • Where: ABF Woods Conference Room, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor, Lakeside, Chicago IL 60611

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Mapping the Muslim Category: An Examination of Race, Identity, Religion and the Black-White Paradigm

The place of Islam and the Muslim in American society has moved from a question on the social margins into an urgent issue.  President Trump’s Executive Orders on immigration and refugees generated enormous controversy and have been challenged in federal court.  However, the density and complexity of the question of Muslims in the U.S. has meant that even when acknowledging the partial and incomplete nature of an examination, finding an entry point or frame for discussion is difficult. 

This work-in-progress examines ways that a legal cognizable category of “Muslim” has been, and might be used in multiple constitutional and legal doctrines.  Beginning with the litigation around Trump’s Executive Orders, we will survey and map the Muslim group category in such constitutional doctrinal areas as the First Amendment religion clauses, the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection and due process clauses, and federal legislation including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Using this mapping of the Muslim group category, we will use methodologies from Critical Race Theory, Asian American Jurisprudence and Asian American Religious Studies to interrogate the Muslim group category in two prevalent framings for the Muslim – race and religion. 

This survey will not attempt to develop specific policy proposals or suggestions for doctrinal reforms.  There is, not, however a claim to neutral objectivity.  The normative basis of this examination is religious pluralism, religious accommodation and anti-subordination critiques of American society.  

Mapping the Muslim Category: An Examination of Race, Identity, Religion and the Black-White Paradigm

Courtesy of Western State College of Law

Neil Gotanda is Professor of Law at Western State College of Law in Irvine California.  He was an original participant in the Conference on Critical Legal Studies, a co-founder of the Conference on Critical Race Theory and developed the earliest courses on Asian American Jurisprudence.  In 1997, he received the Clyde Ferguson Award of the Minority Groups Section of the AALS and was honored by the Asian Law Journal with a Symposium issue on his work. In 2008, he delivered the inaugural Neil Gotanda Lecture in Asian American Jurisprudence at UC Berkeley School of Law. He is co-editor of Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement (1995).  Other publications include New Directions in Asian American Jurisprudence, Asian American Law Journal (2010), The Story of Korematsu: The Japanese American Cases in Constitutional Law Stories (2004), A Critique of "Our Constitution is Color-Blind," Stanford Law Review (1991).

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