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There was the sense of violation, of course. At the bidding of a governor anxious to ride the race issue to the White House, the Board of Regents of the University of California, against the opposition of faculty, students, and administration, over the vigorous protests of chancellors and demonstrators, voted to end affirmative action at the premier public institution of the nation's most demographically diverse state. The first major public university to do so. July 20, 1995.

At a stroke, the landscape of higher education had changed. Assumptions about race and ethnicity that had for decades guided policy were suddenly stripped of the armor of institutional inevitability. They were rent open, open to recuperation, revision, repudiation, whatever the newly emerging politics of a dawning era would decree. Stung by this eruption of history, the editors of Representations present this special issue devoted to exploring the new terrain.

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