Critical Race Narratives

A Study of Race, Rhetoric and Injury

248 pages

August, 2001

ISBN: 9780814731451



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Carl Gutierrez-Jones is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is also the author of Rethinking the Borderlands: Between Chicano Culture and Legal Discourse.

All books by Carl Gutierrez-Jones

The beating of Rodney King, the killing of Amadou Diallo, and the LAPD Rampart Scandal: these events have been interpreted by the courts, the media and the public in dramatically conflicting ways. Critical Race Narratives examines what is at stake in these conflicts and, in so doing, rethinks racial strife in the United States as a highly-charged struggle over different methods of reading and writing.

Focusing in particular on the practice and theorization of narrative strategies, Gutierrez-Jones engages many of the most influential texts in the recent race debates including The Bell Curve, America in Black and White, The Alchemy of Race and Rights, and The Mismeasure of Man. In the process, Critical Race Narratives pursues key questions posed by the texts as they work within, or against, disciplinary expectations: can critical engagements with narrative enable a more democratic dialogue regarding race? what promise does such experimentation hold for working through the traumatic legacy of racism in the United States? Throughout, Critical Race Narratives initiates a timely dialogue between race-focused narrative experiment in scholarly writing and similar work in literary texts and popular culture.


  • "An engaging and fascinating book. In a surprising and unexpected fashion, Carl Gutierrez-Jones shows how narrative fictions become social facts, and how 'raced ways of knowing' secretly shape how we make sense of our shared social life."

    —George Lipsitz, author of The Possessive Investment in Whiteness

  • "In its own rhetorical practices as well as its prescriptions, his book makes a powerful case for why not only John Rechy's migrants need 'alternative stories to engage their imagination and critical facilities,' but why the socially and economically privileged do too. It's an impressive display."

    —Michael Cowan

  • "Mining the proliferation of discourses of racial injury in US popular culture, law, and academics, Carl Gutierrez-Jones offers an interdisciplinary tour de force that challenges readers to rethink nearly every model for analyzing race used today. Emerging when formal politics in the US have been wholly kidnapped by the far Right, Critical Race Narratives has arrived just in time.”

    —Robyn Wiegman, Duke University, author of American Anatomies: Theorizing Race and Gender