January 29, 2020 | Works-in-Progress with Anjuli Verma

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

4:00-5:30 PM

SJRC Common Room, Oakes 231

Join SJRC scholars in the SJRC Common Room for an open discussion of works-in-progress! This is a wonderful chance to engage with one another’s ideas, and support our own internal work. At this session, we will hear from UC Santa Cruz Assistant Professor of Politics, Anjuli Verma.

Anjuli’s work-in-progress, The “Percent Black” Trope: Framing Race, Crime, and Justice, seeks to unpack the double-bind of doing statistical analyses that include race variables in research on crime and punishment. In this work, Anjuli revisits and rearticulates quantitative findings in light of the conceptual critique she attempts to develop, which names a pervasive maneuver in late-modern American social science: the “percent black” trope. The “percent black” trope refers to the mode of methodological and theoretical reasoning by which race-related associations are empirically demonstrated but in the absence of causal theory about the mechanisms that would explain associations. At best, underlying processes that might offer explanatory power remain obscured; at worst, the tight coupling of race and the “abnormal” outcome du jour is reified. Either way, as Anjuli’s paper argues, the trope allows racial measurements of “percent black” to stand in for racial mechanisms that need to be identified, and reckoned with, in social inequality research and the political fields of social scientific evidence produced to inform policy and law.

Anjuli Verma is an Assistant Professor of Politics, at UC Santa Cruz, whose research broadly engages questions of punishment and inequality, regime change, and the interplay of legal reform and politics in the governance of crime and punishment.

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