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UO Soc professor wins award for recent article

UO Sociology Professor Jessica Vasquez-Tokos’ recent article (coauthored with Priscilla Yamin, Professor of Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at UO) “The Racialization of Privacy:  Racial Formation as a Family Affair” (Theory & Society), has been selected as co-winner of American Sociological Association (ASA) Race, Gender, and Class Section Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Article Award.  This paper carefully and clearly lays out the theory and cases to show how myriad forms of state action get entangled with and emerge from hegemonic racial ideologies and relations to differentially value Whiteness and devalue non-Whiteness specifically in the context of restrictions on family privacy. This is a powerful clarification and application of racial formation theory. Congratulations Jessica and Priscilla!


A right to family privacy is considered a cornerstone of American life, and yet access to it is apportioned by race. Our notion of the “racialization of privacy” refers to the phenomenon that family privacy, including the freedom to create a family uninhibited by law, pressure, and custom, is delimited by race. Building upon racial formation theory, this article examines three examples: the Native American boarding school system (1870s to 1970s), eugenic laws and practices (early/mid 1900s), and contemporary deportation. Analysis reveals that state-sponsored limitations on family privacy is a racial project that shapes the racial state. Performing an ideological genealogy with our cases, this article makes three contributions: it illustrates how the state leverages policies affecting families to define national belonging; it reveals how access to family privacy is patterned by race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, and national origin; and it distills how Whiteness and a national racial hierarchy are socially constructed and maintained over time. With the racialization of privacy, we identify how the state seeks to reproduce institutionalized White supremacy and the effects this has on families. We argue that families are the linchpin in state-sponsored racial projects that construct the nation and that the racialization of privacy, as a form of inequality, is a defining characteristic of the color-line.