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University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

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All Born To Freedom? Comparing The Law And Politics Of Race And The Memory Of Slavery In The U.S. And France Today, Ariela J. Gross Aug 2011

All Born To Freedom? Comparing The Law And Politics Of Race And The Memory Of Slavery In The U.S. And France Today, Ariela J. Gross

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

Both the United States and France have seen a burgeoning of memorialization of slavery and abolition in recent years, and France has even passed a memorial law declaring slavery a crime against humanity. This Essay compares law, racial politics, and the memory of slavery in two nations trying to come to terms with their slave pasts. Despite important differences in their histories and civil rights regimes, I argue that in both France and the U.S., movements that oppose race-conscious law portray slavery as part of the deep past, and a generalized past detached from race, whereas those seeking some ...