Protest Movements and Racial Identity: Evidence from Red Power Activism


Protest movements are drivers of political, economic and social change. A fundamental goal of such movements is mobilisation on the basis of shared identities and common interests. This project examines whether protest - and in particular, ethnic activism - can affect the racial identities of non-protestors. I propose a new method to measure changes in racial identity using self-identified race in US social security card applications. Using a sample of individuals with Native American ancestry linked between historical censuses and social security records, I document an increase in the share identifying as ’nonwhite’ following high-profile ‘Red Power’ protests in the late 1960s. I propose to study the tangible effects of changes in racial identity on a range of short- and long-run outcomes, including the occurrence of subsequent protests, tribal enrollment, legal action against the US government, and the extent of cultural renewal later in the 20th century.

Christian Maruthiah
Christian Maruthiah
PhD Candidate in Economics

I am a PhD candidate in economics at CEMFI.