Throughout US history structural acts of civic injustice—especially those aimed at excluding racial minorities from political participation, constitutional rights, and even legal personhood—have had a profound impact on the nature and development of American democracy, at both the local and national levels. From Dred Scott to Jim Crow, from spaces of constitutional exception in overseas territories to voter suppression tactics on the mainland, civic democratic ideals have frequently been undermined or challenged by attempts to construct and defend a “white man’s republic.” Such attempts have in evoked sustained acts of resistance through a wide variety of means.

The project explores practices and institutionalized manifestations of “racial democracy” across time and space in American history, as well as acts of resistance to such practices. A racial democracy (a variation of Pierre van den Berghe’s concept “Herrenvolk democracy” and David Roediger’s adaptation “Herrenvolk republicanism”) is one that applies the laws that govern legal and political rights on the basis of race rather than universal and egalitarian civic ideals.