University of Southern California

Volume 83, Number 3 (March, 2010)

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    Gender, Discourse, and Customary Law in Africa
    Article by Johanna E. Bond

    Around the world, efforts by states to accommodate cultural pluralism vary in form and vigor. Some multiculturalist states cede to cultural minorities the authority to govern in certain substantive areas, such as family law. Not surprisingly, feminists have raised concerns that a state’s reluctance to govern in areas traditionally seen as “private,” and leaving those areas of law to customary legal systems, leaves women within those minority communities vulnerable to discrimination. The potentia...

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    Domesticating Intelligence
    Article by Samuel J. Rascoff

    In the best of circumstances, governing domestic intelligence is challenging. Intelligence sits in an uncomfortable relationship with law’s commitment to transparency and accountability. History amply demonstrates that intelligence—including domestic intelligence—frequently begins where the rule of law gives out. The inherent difficulty of governing intelligence has been unnecessarily exacerbated by a deep-seated and longstanding confusion about what domestic intelligence is. For over a centu...

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    Mixed Systems in Legal Origins Analysis
    Note by Kensie Kim

    A “hybrid” or “mixed” country can be defined as having substantial common and civil elements in its legal system. Hybrid countries have been an overlooked aspect of legal origins literature. This study’s comparative analysis finds that most hybrids have experienced moderate to high economic growth rates, began as civil law countries, and maintained predominantly civil law–based property and contract law, while uniformly adopting common law–based corporate and securities law....

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    Book Review: Reply
    Article by Ariela J. Gross

    What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America tells the history of race and racism in the United States through the lens of trials of racial identity—cases in which courts or administrative bodies determined whether someone was black, white, or Indian. The book is first and foremost a history of the shifting ways Americans have used the law to create “race,” a system of ordering people hierarchically with grave consequences for liberty, property, and rights. While many histories o...

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    Book Review: The “Common Sense” of Race
    Article by Neil Gotanda

    In What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America, Ariela J. Gross provides a compelling and nuanced account of race in America. Through her examination of “racial trials”—litigation in which racial identification plays a crucial role—Gross ties together the personal, social, and political dimensions of racial identity and classification. This discussion provides an important new perspective on the study of race in this country. Earlier studies of racial classification have focu...

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    Book Review:Discovering Identity in Civil Procedure
    Article by Anthony V. Alfieri

    This Review explores the story of Floride Norelus—an undocumented Haitian immigrant—her civil rights lawyers, and the judges who did not believe them. The backdrop for Norelus’s story comes out of Ariela J. Gross’s new book, What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America. In What Blood Won’t Tell, Gross, an elegant historian and eloquent storyteller, enlarges an already distinguished body of work on slavery, race, and antebellum trials to investigate the changing meaning of identit...

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    Book Review: Race, Blood, and What the Alligator Knows: A Review of What Blood Won’t Tell
    Article by Jason A. Gillmer

    From the opening pages of Ariela J. Gross’s What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America, it is clear that the reader is about to embark on something special. The story begins in a Louisiana courthouse in 1857, with an enslaved woman named Alexina Morrison claiming that she is white. For her contemporaries, the assertion no doubt carried troubling implications. James White, the man who insisted Morrison was black, had papers to prove that he paid good money for her and that she w...

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    Book Review: Reading Between the (Blood) Lines
    Article by Rose Cuison Villazor

    Legal scholars and historians have recognized the rule of hypodescent—that “one drop” of African blood categorized one as Black—as one of the powerful tools that law and society deployed to construct racial identities and deny equal citizenship. Indeed, at least one prominent scholar has suggested that the concept of hypodescent operated as the most determinative method of ascertaining racial identity. Formalistic in its application, the hypodescent rule ensured “[t]hat even Blacks who did not l...

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