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Family Law

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26 SEP 2011

'It is difficult for a white judge to understand': orientalism, racialisation, and Christianity in English child welfare cases [2009] CFLQ 283

This paper considers a set of English child welfare cases in order to explore judicial representations of non-Christianness. Drawing upon insights contained in feminist, critical race, and postcolonial theory, we make two main arguments. First, we argue that judges deploy three distinct yet overlapping approaches to understanding non-Christianness: (1) as belief and ritual practice; (2) as racial genetic marker; and (3) as culture and personal identity. Secondly, we argue that, within these judicial texts, a way of thinking can be identified that is, at times, orientalist, racialised, and Christian. We further argue that this way of thinking plays into contemporary debates about ‘western values' and ‘civilisational missions'.

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