Onerous passions: colonial anti-miscegenation rhetoric and the history of sexuality



Publication Details

Ehlers, N. 2011, 'Onerous passions: colonial anti-miscegenation rhetoric and the history of sexuality', Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 45, no. 4, pp. 319-340.


Ehlers’s analysis revisits Foucauldian conceptualizations of the history of sexuality in order to map the inextricability of race, gender and sexuality as they emerged in the context of the early American colonies. The salience of such an analysis lies in its ability to extend the terrain of Foucault’s history, and brings new considerations to bear regarding the specific configurations of race, gender and sexual intersections in North American history. If, as Foucault insists, sexuality is a set of effects produced in bodies, behaviours and social relations, Ehlers reorients these claims to consider how these effects were racialized within the rubric of colonial anti-miscegenation rhetoric. Through such a tracing, it becomes evident that, from the early colonial context, sexuality was deployed to produce ‘ideal’ sexuality as a bastion of whiteness: that is, to configure and maintain ‘ideal’ sexuality as white.

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