Blinded by Sight: Seeing Race Through the Eyes of the Blind. By Osagie K. Obasogie. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013. 288 pp. $24.95, paper.

Published date01 June 2015
Date01 June 2015
social terrain of caste and communal violence. Baxi focuses on the
largely neglected history and use of the Scheduled Caste and Sched-
uled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989, which names the
rape of Dalit (formerly “Untouchables”) and tribal women as an
atrocity. Baxi innovatively shows how rape trials produce a language
that obscures and naturalizes the structural violence of caste and the
everyday humiliation Dalit women face as a result of sexual violence.
Finally, Public Secrets of Law takes on the question of the significance
of sexual violence in the making of communal religious violence, a
question that continues to define the experience of sexual violence
in Gujarat and across India. Temporality is key to the legal making
of the event of sexual violence, where legal recognition of communal
rape and sectarian sexual violence are seen as temporary anomalies,
exceptions to the norm, rather than everyday structures that define
women’s lives in contemporary India.
From these examples, one gets a sense of the diverse areas of
inquiry featured in Baxi’s investigation of rape trials—from biases
that travel under the guise of science, to the legal obfuscation of
structural violence, to courtroom scripts that dictate how women
and children are constituted as legal subjects. Beyond questions of
sexual violence and the law, Baxi’s ethnography explores the
understudied nature of the workings of Indian courts. Indeed, the
study offers so much rich material that it could easily be two sepa-
rate monographs, opening up more questions than it can answer.
Public Secrets of Law will be of value to scholars interested in the
growing field of South Asian legal studies, comparative ethnogra-
phies of trial courts, the study of women and children as legal sub-
jects, and scholarship on law and sexual violence. Baxi provides
remarkable insight into the everyday working of misogynistic legal
imaginations of women in the courtroom and the naturalization of
patriarchy in the legal adjudication of sexual violence. More
broadly, PublicSecretsofLawoffers unique and important perspec-
tives on the working and failure of criminal law in India.
Blinded by Sight: Seeing Race Through the Eyes of the Blind.By
Osagie K. Obasogie. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press,
2013. 288 pp. $24.95, paper.
Reviewed by Ren
ee Ann Cramer, Law, Politics and Society, Drake
Book Reviews 537

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