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Despite the growing number of Asian American and Latinx law students, many panethnic students still feel as if they do not belong in this elite microcosm, which reflects the racial inequalities in mainstream American society. While in law school, these students—often from immigrant families, and often the first to go to college—have to fight against racialized and gendered stereotypes. In Incidental Racialization, Diana Pan rigorously explores how systemic inequalities are produced and sustained in law schools. 

Through interviews with more than 100 law students and participant observations at two law schools, Pan examines how racialization happens alongside professional socialization. She investigates how panethnic students negotiate their identities, race, and gender in an institutional context. She also considers how their lived experiences factor into their student organization association choices and career paths. 

Incidental Racialization sheds light on how race operates in a law school setting for both students of color and in the minds of white students. It also provides broader insights regarding racial inequalities in society in general.

Incidental Racialization: Overview


"Incidental Racialization is a significant contribution to the still scant literature on the experiences of Asian Americans and Latina/os. Along with providing crucial analysis on the multiple forms of racialization in higher education, it incorporates powerful testimonies from students highlighting how inequality is maintained by the persistence of whiteness in law. This is a must-read book for all those committed to racial and educational justice."
—Gilda L. Ochoa, Professor of Sociology and Chicana/o Studies at Pomona College and author of Academic Profiling: Latinos, Asian Americans and the Achievement Gap

"In Incidental Racialization, Pan identifies the roles of race, class, and/or gender as a key component in the power dynamics at play in professional socialization in the United States. By looking at panethnicity and the racial dynamics experienced by Latinos and Asian Americans, she adds an important institutional and structural analysis that takes racial hierarchy into account. Her shrewd intersectional analyses explicates the experiences members of these groups have, paying attention to their institutional positionality as well as their identity negotiations."
—Wendy Leo Moore, Associate Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University and author of Reproducing Racism: White Space, Elite Law Schools, and Racial Inequality

"Overall, the book makes a strong contribu- tion to longstanding sociological discussions about professionalization, racialization, and identity. It’s also an important addition to contemporary conversations about how peo- ple make it to the proverbial top of the ladder—or, just as importantly, how they seek out ways of supporting their communi- ties by using the tool kits that come with a high-status credential. As we see legal chal- lenges and corporate responses to the contin- ued dearth of people of color and women at the highest levels of white-collar jobs, Pan’s book helps us understand the perspectives of students who may be on their way into that world, their choices to enter or leave the profession, and what may await them." --  Elizabeth Lee, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Ohio University (Contemporary Sociology)

"In sum, it’s the details of specific experiences (microaggressions, macroaggressions, and the solidarity experienced through membership and participation in panethnic organizations) that readers from outside the field of legal studies may find most relevant and useful. While preparation to enter the field of legal work clearly has unique characteristics, the experiences of the participants in this study seem to have clear resonance with and connection to the induction and indoctrination that occurs in other professions, and the constructs that Pan offers throughout this work will likely transfer easily." -- Anita Bright, Associate Professor of Education, Portland State University (Teachers College Record)

Incidental Racialization: Open Positions
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