Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters


For many years, controversies impacting many areas of legal scholarship have left the field of immigration law virtually untouched. Thus, although other areas of law have felt the critique advanced by critical scholars, immigration law has proceeded as a virtually self-contained unit. In doing so, immigration law has developed a paradigm for legal research.

As Thomas Kuhn uses the term, a paradigm, or normal science, "suppl[ies] the foundation" for research in the area. Scholars who participate in a shared paradigm "are committed to the same rules and standards" for research, and the paradigm "define[s] the legitimate problems and methods of a research field." Normal science does not seek to "call forth new sorts of phenomena." Indeed, phenomena that do not fit the paradigm "are often not seen at all." In his pioneering article, which has provoked varied responses also published in this issue of the University of Illinois Law Review, Professor Kevin Johnson calls the immigration law scholarship paradigm into question.

He contends that mainstream immigration law scholars have failed to "confront squarely the reality of the influence of race."' In addition, he maintains that those scholars have marginalized or ignored race-sensitive immigration scholarship. Johnson's article signals that immigration law scholarship is on the brink of a paradigm shift - that is, close to integrating a racial critique into immigration law and policy. In this foreword to the special issue, the author uses Kuhn's theoretical framework to describe the normal science of immigration law and offers some reasons to believe, like Johnson does, that a paradigm shift may be at work in immigration law scholarship.

Publication Title

University of Illinois Law Review

Document Type




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