Critical Race Theory: Race and Law from the United States to Europe

Course Description: 

Critical Race Theory emerged in American legal academia at the end of the 1980s as a critique of the limitations both of orthodox liberal civil rights scholarship and of the failure to address race by scholars belonging to Critical Legal Studies. Since then, critical race theorists have developed a rich body of scholarship and critique. This course will first explore the ideas of „interest convergence”, „intersectionality”, „legal storytelling”, „unconscious racism” and the legal developments concerning race issues in the United States from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to today’s „post-racial” articulations after the election of President Obama. Then, the course will move on to explore how race and ethnicity have developed and played out in the (continental) European context in contrast and in comparison with the American reality. In particular, we will look at the specific issues that arise in connection with race and ethnicity on this continent and which relate to the philosophical foundations of race thought, colonialism, the experience of the Holocaust but also to antigypsyism, xenophobia and/or Islamophobia.

Learning Outcomes: 

Ability to think and critically analyze American (constitutional) jurisprudence and race relations.

Ability to use and apply a race critical approach to legal analysis.

Ability to use legal reasoning – advanced level.

Ability to understand the perspective(s) of racial minorities with regard to law.

Ability to understand feminist legal analysis.

Ability to think and critically analyze human rights and non-discrimination case law with regard to race/ethnicity.

Ability to understand race/ethnic relations in Europe.

Understanding of European (legal) history.



The final grade is based on class-participation and one written assignment [15%], a mid term assignment [25 %] and a written final seminar paper of max. 5000 words [60%].