CLEAR | Perspectives - Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

by School of Law

Meeting Law Law - CLEAR Law - HP Law - Students

Tue, Oct 17, 2023

6 PM – 7:30 PM PDT (GMT-7)

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Law Building (LAW), LAW 3750

401 East Peltason Drive, Irvine , CA 92697, United States




The UCI Center on Law, Equality and Race (CLEAR) hosts a discussion of Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (Penguin Random House, 2020).

Discussion will focus on Chapter 1, 3, 6, 14 and Part 3: The Eight Pillars of Caste (pages 99-104; 115-30).

Facilitated by Professor Mario Barnes.

Publisher's Description:
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their outcasting of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

A limited number of books are available for free to law students with online access available through the library. Instructions for receiving a free copy are included in email confirmation upon registration.

To request reasonable accommodations for a disability, please email