The Schematic State
Race, Transnationalism, and the Politics of the Census
Cambridge University Press 2016
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in British StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network February 12, 2019 Lilly Goren
Debra Thompson, in her award-winning* book The Schematic State: Race, Transnationalism, and the Politics of the Census (Cambridge University Press, 2016), explores the complexities of the politics of the census. This book, which unpacks the census itself, leads the reader to consider how this mundane tool actually translates the abstraction of the state into a concrete entity, and, at the same time, how this tool has been and is used in contradictory ways in regard to the issue of race. Thompson, in exploring the census, contextualizes her analysis within three case studies: the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. She examines these cases over the course of more than 200 years of history and data, and she traces the shifts and changes in terms of racial categorization on the census, noting the fluid nature of understandings of race as applied to the citizen body in each of these countries, and how race was made legible by the census. The Schematic State also digs into the state, how it makes use of the data that is gleaned from the census, and what these uses suggest in terms of the instrument of the census. This book will be of interest to a variety of scholars and lay people, since the text and the research knit together different fields within and beyond political science, including comparative politics, critical race studies, critical legal studies, political theory, public policy, institutional political development, and statistical studies.
*Winner, 2017 Race and Comparative Politics Best Book Award, Race, Ethnicity and Politics Section, American Political Science Association.