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Volume 9, Issue 2, Spring 2019

Roderick A. Ferguson
Pages 1-19

A Question of Personhood
Black Marriage, Gay Marriage, and the Contraction of the Human

This article uses the circumstances of black intimacies within the nineteenth century to analyze the ways in which the law, by definition, limits human possibility and agency. This limiting of possibility and agency is then visited upon LGBT people in the moment of marriage equality. The article attempts to show how that limiting is, in fact, part of the definition of legal personhood. While expanding forms of agency prescribed by the state, the law has also worked to narrow the forms of social agency produced and enacted by minoritized communities. This article, in sum, takes the marriage right as an example of a legal agency that confers personhood and narrows the intimate universes and social capacities produced by racial and sexual minorities.

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