Setting Aside the "Wise Latina?": Postracial Myths, Paradoxes, and Performing Enculturation in the Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings

Aaron Hess, Miriam Sobre-Denton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Discourses of "postracialism" surfaced after the 2008 election and continue to percolate in public discussion. Yet, whiteness discourses persist in reifying centered and marginalized positions in American society through the prism of race. Through critical rhetorical analysis, this essay examines the confirmation hearings of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to argue that while celebrated for her achievements, Sotomayor is directed to "set aside" her Latina heritage. Consequently, she performs her own enculturation into the court, a stark contrast to her previous statements regarding the role of race on the bench. We offer the concepts of performative enculturation and joint improvisation as how Sotomayor utilized her hybridized identity to be confirmed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalCommunication Studies
Volume65
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • Enculturation
  • Postracial
  • Sonia Sotomayor
  • Supreme Court
  • Whiteness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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