In this contribution, I trace the ways practicing judges articulate, as well as challenge, race. Drawing on an ethnography of everyday practices of adjudication and sentencing in a Dutch, lower Criminal Court, and working with Stuart Hall’s conception of articulation, I show how judges draw on three articulations of race – that of culture, the social milieu, and the phenotype – to make sense of individual cases. Emphasizing how and where these articulations of race serve local, pragmatic goals – of individualized sentencing, or of identification of the suspect – I also pay attention to their local impracticalities, that is, where these registers are challenged or resisted. In so doing, I do not only understand race as multiple but also situate race as a pragmatic and local accomplishment with its own uses and instabilities.

Culture, disparities, legal practice, milieu, phenotype, race, sense-making, sentencing,
Social and Legal Studies
Erasmus University Rotterdam

van Oorschot, I. (2020). Culture, Milieu, Phenotype: Articulating Race in Judicial Sense-making Practices. Social and Legal Studies. doi:10.1177/0964663920907992