Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics


Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics
Melissa Nobles
Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000. Print.

Winner: W.E.B. Dubois Outstanding Book Award for 2000

This book analyzes the politics of race, censuses, and citizenship, drawing on the complex history of questions about race in the U.S. and Brazilian censuses. It reconstructs the history of racial categorization in American and Brazilian censuses from the first censuses in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries up through the 2000 census. It sharply challenges certain presumptions that guide scholarly and popularly studies, notably that censuses are innocent bystanders in the arena of politics and that racial data are innocuous demographic data. 

Excerpt from Reviews:

“Shades of Citizenship is a very valuable, well-conceived, and well-researched book. it is important in several respects: as a study of racial politics (particularly on a comparative level), as an historical treatment of issues of race and citizenship, and as a contribution to our understanding of the census.” American Political Science Review

"Nobles does an outstanding job of tracing major debates that have influenced the ways in which the census in both Brazil and the United States reflect racial understandings in their respective societies and in specific time periods. . . . Because this book is well written and documented, it would be an ideal book for a graduate seminar in critical race theory. . . . This book is, overall, a welcome addition to studies of racial formation."—Journal of American Ethnic History

"There is much to admire in this book. . . . It is an impressive piece of scholarship and brings a wealth of obscure historical sources to bear on the topic. The author boldly confronts some of the more sensitive issues surrounding race. . . . This is a solid contribution [to modern racial politics] and it will no doubt inspire further analysis of the subject."—Ethnic and Racial Studies

"Censuses have been an underused resource in the study of Latin America. Melissa Nobles's fine monograph reminds us of what we have been missing."—Journal of Latin American Studies