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Racism and Sexual Oppression in Anglo-America

A Genealogy

Ladelle McWhorter

Publication Year: 2009

Does the black struggle for civil rights make common cause with the movement to foster queer community, protest anti-queer violence or discrimination, and demand respect for the rights and sensibilities of queer people? Confronting this emotionally charged question, Ladelle McWhorter reveals how a carefully structured campaign against abnormality in the late 19th and early 20th centuries encouraged white Americans to purge society of so-called biological contaminants, people who were poor, disabled, black, or queer. Building on a legacy of savage hate crimes -- such as the killings of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd -- McWhorter shows that racism, sexual oppression, and discrimination against the disabled, the feeble, and the poor are all aspects of the same societal distemper, and that when the civil rights of one group are challenged, so are the rights of all.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. vii-viii

The research for this book was made possible in part by four grants, three from the University of Richmond (faculty research grants in 1998 and 2006 and an enhanced sabbatical grant in 2006–2007) and one from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York, the Heller-Bernard Fellowship, awarded in...

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Introduction: Two Great Dangers

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pp. 1-16

In the early morning hours of Monday, October 12, 1998, a twenty-one- year-old university student named Matthew Shepard died in an intensive care unit in Fort Collins, Colorado, six days after having been kidnapped, pistol-whipped, bound to a fence post, and abandoned in the freezing darkness a few miles outside...

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1. Racism, Race, Race War: In Search of Conceptual Clarity

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pp. 17-62

The question I found myself confronting so painfully that October night and pondering so long after—the question of whether I (or for that matter anybody) should ever draw on the practical, symbolic, rhetorical, emotional, and moral resources of the black civil rights movement in efforts to foster queer community, protest anti-queer...

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2. A Genealogy of Modern Racism, Part 1: The White Man Cometh

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pp. 63-96

As Foucault suggests, not only in race war discourse but in seventeenth- century English more generally (as in German and French), the word race referred to heritage or tradition. Regardless of how they looked, individuals belonged to a race if they grew up in its traditions, spoke its language, and practiced its religion. Membership had...

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3. A Genealogy of Modern Racism, Part 2: From Black Lepers to Idiot Children

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pp. 97-140

In his experiment to determine whether or how far power might be thought on the model of warfare, Foucault puts forth some fragments of a genealogy of modern racism from about 1630 to the outbreak of World War II. In chapter 2 I elaborated on the first half of that genealogy with my examination of race from 1630 to the last years...

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4. Scientific Racism and the Threat of Sexual Predation

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pp. 141-195

On Sunday, March 7, 1965, John Lewis, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton Robinson, and nearly six hundred other civil rights marchers confronted the Dallas County, Alabama, Sheriff’s Department and a contingent of Alabama state troopers on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. At issue was African Americans’ right to vote and the fact...

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5. Managing Evolution: Race Betterment, Race Purification, and the American Eugenics Movement

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pp. 196-244

Sexuality came into conceptual existence in nineteenth-century medicine as an essential source of vitality and a common seat of disease. A healthy sexuality made for a healthy body and a healthy mind; likewise, a diseased, defective, or arrested sexuality posed serious physical and mental problems and risks. Simultaneously, in nineteenth-century...

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6. Nordics Celebrate the Family

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pp. 245-293

The social scientific analysis and condemnation of racism in the mid-1930s did nothing to curb enthusiasm for biopolitical interventions in reproduction and sexual behavior or for genetic management of national populations. For decades thereafter, draconian immigration restrictions remained in force. Segregation—both racial and...

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7. (Counter) Remembering Racism: An Insurrection of Subjugated Knowledges

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pp. 294-331

In casual conversations a question I always dread is this: “So, what do you do?” Most of the time, honestly, I don’t really know what it is that I do. I could say, “I’m a philosopher; I philosophize.” But uttered at a charity fund-raiser or a doctor’s office or a bar, that kind of statement could only lead to trouble. “I teach,” I say...


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pp. 333-400

Works Cited

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pp. 401-420


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pp. 421-430

E-ISBN-13: 9780253002938
E-ISBN-10: 0253002931
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253352965

Page Count: 440
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 406565635
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Racism and Sexual Oppression in Anglo-America

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Social conditions -- 1865-1918.
  • Eugenics -- United States -- History
  • Whites -- United States -- Attitudes -- History.
  • Minorities -- Civil rights -- United States -- History.
  • Racism -- United States -- History.
  • Gay rights -- United States -- History.
  • United States -- Race relations.
  • Abnormalities, Human -- Political aspects -- United States -- History.
  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- History.
  • Homophobia -- United States -- History.
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