Constructing the United States as a Racial Exception
This chapter examines the connection between race relations, often considered a domestic issue tied to identity politics in the United States, and the question of universalism and cultural relativism that is central to discussions of human rights. More specifically, it considers how sex trafficking works to consolidate a national narrative of exceptionalism that universalizes the U.S. condition, and how sex trafficking references the language and history of transatlantic slavery. Domestic discourses around difference and race, while seemingly distanced from debates around human rights, are in fact two conversations that enable each other. That is, contemporary national discourses of racial difference, particularly multiculturalism and postracialism, are made available through the concept of human rights and global diversity. Alternately, contemporary human rights discourses share much of the language, frameworks, and strategies for understanding difference that U.S. civil rights-era activisms articulated.
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