Culture, Milieu, Phenotype: Articulating Race in Judicial Sense-making Practices

Irene van Oorschot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-811
Number of pages22
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.

Research programs

  • EUC


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