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The Diversity Bargain and Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities, Natasha K. Warikoo

Reviewed by Julie R. Posselt



In August 2017, white nationalists marched on the University of Virginia (UVA), brandishing torches as they gathered around a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Today, selective colleges and universities—both public ones like Virginia as well as private ones such as Harvard, Brown, and Oxford—find themselves grappling with their racial pasts at a political moment when racial anxieties are high. How do students on these campuses make sense of it, and the broader opportunity structure in which they are situated? The defiant chants of protestors in Charlottesville (for example, “You will not replace us” and “blood and soil,” a Nazi cry) offer a glimpse into one mental model on race, although most at this protest were not themselves UVA students. In The Diversity Bargain, the contextualized narratives elicited from Natasha K. Warikoo's interviews with college students at three elite U.S. and English universities provide another glimpse into present thinking about race and opportunity.

Warikoo's carefully designed research into student views on admissions provides insight into wider frames about race and opportunity because selection of those whom society agrees are its best and brightest, into universities similarly deemed best, offer “proof that meritocracy and equal opportunity are flourishing&r

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