Law Text Culture

Article Title

Left (Over) Rights


As an intellectual movement in legal scholarship, Critical Race Theory ("CRT") was formally inaugurated twelve years ago, at a 1989 critical theory conference in Madison Wisconsin. Although the movement had its own historical narrative of development (Crenshaw 1995: xvii-xxvii), it had inherited much of its direction and methodology from two immediate intellectual precursors, the civil rights and critical legal studies ("CLS") movements. (xix) From the latter, CRT had adopted the critique of modern liberal legal consciousness, and in particular, the argument that law was reflected and reinforced the exercise of power by elites. From the former, CRT had drawn a deliberately modernist commitment, both to analyze law using the lens of race as a central category of analysis, and to use law in some sort of affirmative program to advance racial emancipation. (xxvii; Harris 1994: 750-54)