Allyson Hobbs

Johanna Lawshea

Although recent decades have witnessed an increasingly multiracial society and a growing acceptance of hybridity, the problem of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotionally fraught personal decisions. Between the eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community.  In A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life (Harvard University Press), Allyson Hobbs, an Assistant Professor of History at Stanford University, presents a revelatory history of passing, which explores the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions.