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date: 19 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Recently, scholars studying American law and identity have adopted American Political Development (APD)’s focus on institutions in generating, shaping, and thwarting change. Their work has informed APD by emphasizing legal institutions as developmental factors and by highlighting how political struggles over identity influence the course of development. Studies of identity and law fill in missing parts of developmental stories. Developmental accounts recognize the importance of significant identity-based institutions like slavery or immigration regimes, but often they ignore impacts of these institutions on development. Further, some significant institutions like marriage and family that implicate identity are often omitted from debates over developmental questions. Overlooking these struggles impoverishes the account by distorting developmental narratives or disabling them from explaining the timing, process, and trajectory of changes. Focusing on identity and law also illustrates the significance of law and legal institutions in development. Moments in constitutional development turn on questions of identity, and struggles over equality and inclusion that influence the course of political development occur on legal terrain. Constitutional and legal development intersect with political development as legal struggles spill over onto political ground and vice versa. Law and legal discourse bridge between broader cultural concerns and the institutions and practices that comprise the state.

Keywords: race, gender, sexuality, citizenship, constitutional law, identity, equality, rights

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