Critical Mixed Race Studies

What is Critical Mixed Race Studies?

Critical Mixed Race Studies is a contemporary and blossoming field within the schools of Sociology, Anthropology and Law; and an offshoot of Critical Race Theory.

Why the word “Critical”? I thought it meant the topic was critically important – but that would be an arrogant way to describe a course; as if: “My course on Race Theory is so critical that you must learn it.” So I asked the expert, Steve Riley of Mixed Race Studies.  He explained that the word “critical” is used with the meaning of critiquing. So “Critical Mixed Races Studies” means critiquing the concepts of mixed race.

Mr. Riley also put me in touch with Dr. Rainier Spencer, author of Reproducing Race: The Paradox of Generation Mix. Dr. Spencer said that the word critical also means to have a “sharper and more objective lens” on the topic.

Here are some of the pioneering universities leading the way in the pedagogy of ‘race’ and ‘mixed race’. Please add more critical mixed race courses in the comments below.

 University Department Conference, Class, or Program
 UCLA School of Law Critical Race Theory
 DePaul University AfricanAsian & Latin American Studies 2012 Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference
 Harvard Government
African and African American Studies
American Politics 
Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and ImmigrationTransformation of the American Racial Order?
 Stanford Center for Comparative Studies on Race and Ethnicity Various
 University of Nevada, Las Vegas Anthropology Cultural Anthropology
 University of Washington College of Arts & Sciences Mixed Identities and Racialized Bodies


Just this year, in spring 2011,  the University of Washington has had it’s first Mixed Identities and Racialized Bodies class. It’s fascinating to see history in the making. Here is the actual New Course Application submitted to the Curriculum Review Committee at the University of Washington.

Professor Laura Kina has written a detailed account of the inaugural 2010 Critical Mixed Race Studies conference held at DePaul University at which 430 people attended. Her article is titled Watershed Moment for Critical Mixed Race Studies. Kina describes Critical Mixed Race Studies as being focused on multiracial, interracial, and transracial adoption populations and concerned with social justice.

You can register for the 2012 Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference which will be held at DePaul University in Chicago on November 1-4, 2012

If you would like to read more about this growing field you can find over 3,000 articles on Steven Riley’s website, Mixed Race Studies, and there is a smaller collection at




  1. says

    Great article Glenn!  I had no idea that we had several universities with departments examining mixed race studies. That's great!  I've never heard of this conference either, so I'm definitely going to look into that.  By the way, are you planning to attend?

  2. says

     I am glad to know that so many universities are offering coursework on the mixed experience! I live only hours from Chicago and the conference is FREE so I am going to try to check it out.  Thanks for writing about this, Glenn!