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Price: $29.95

Paperback 416 pp.
15 halftones, 10 maps, 6.125" x 9.25"



Publication date:
November 2010

Imprint: OUP US

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What Comes Naturally

Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America

Peggy Pascoe

A long-awaited history that promises to dramatically change our understanding of race in America, What Comes Naturally traces the origins, spread, and demise of miscegenation laws in the United States-laws that banned interracial marriage and sex, and which were enacted and applied not just in the South but throughout most of the country, in the West, the North, and the Midwest.

Beginning in the Reconstruction era, when the term miscegenation first was coined, Peggy Pascoe traces the creation of a racial hierarchy that bolstered white supremacy and banned the marriage of Whites to Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, and American Indians, as well as the marriage of Whites to Blacks. She takes readers into the lost world of miscegenation law, showing how legislators, lawyers, and judges used ideas about gender and sexuality to enact and enforce miscegenation laws. Judges labeled interracial marriages "unnatural," marriage license clerks made them seem statistically invisible, and newspaper reporters turned them into sensational morality tales. Taken together, their actions embedded a multiracial version of white supremacy deep in the heart of the modern American state. Pascoe ends not simply with the landmark 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia, in which the U.S. Supreme Court finally struck down miscegenation laws, but with a look at the implications of the ideal of colorblindness that replaced them.

Moving effortlessly from the lives of interracial couples, the politicking of the NAACP, and the outraged objections of Filipino immigrants to the halls of state legislatures and rulings of the Supreme Court, What Comes Naturally transcends older interpretations of bans on interracial marriage as a southern story in black and white to offer a stunning account of the national scope and multiracial breadth of America's tragic history of miscegenation laws.

Readership : Undergraduate and graduate students, scholars of race, gender, sexuality, legal history, American studies, civil rights, Western history, and immigration history.

Part I Miscegenation Law and Constitutional Equality, 1863-1900
1. Engendering Miscegenation
2. Sexualizing Miscegenation Law
Part II Miscegenation Law and Race Classification, 1860-1948
3. Configuring Race in the American West
4. The Facts of Race in the Courtroom
5. Seeing Like a Racial State
Part III Miscegenation Law and Its Opponents, 1913-1967
6. Between a Rock and a Hard Place
7. Interracial Marriage as a Natural Right
8. Interracial Marriage as a Civil Right
Part IV The Politics of Colorblindness, 1967-2000
9. Lionizing Loving
Conclusion: The Ghost of the Past

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Peggy Pascoe is Beekman Professor of Northwest and Pacific History and Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Oregon. She is the author of Relations of Rescue: The Search for Female Moral Authority in the American West, 1874-1939 (OUP).

Interracialism - Edited by Werner Sollors
Writing History - William Kelleher Storey and Towser Jones

Special Features

  • Winner of multiple prizes: Ellis W. Hawley Prize of the Organization of American Historians and the Lawrence W. Levine Award of the Organization of American Historians, the John Dunning Prize and the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize of the American Historical Association, and the James Willard Hurst Prize of the Law and Society Association.
  • Comprehensive national retelling of the making of race in American law and culture.
  • Breadth of racial coverage - includes Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, American Indians, Whites, and Blacks.