This article explores the way vulnerability gets mapped onto some bodies and not others. It discusses how sociolegal frameworks of vulnerability have both significantly transformative and anti-democratic ramifications for feminist social justice projects. Vulnerability—as a bodily condition, basis for relating, and methodology for socio-political intervention—charts how social inequalities are produced and dismissed. It is a source of possibility and risk. Part 1 outlines a progressive framework of vulnerability methodologies, interweaving poststructuralist theories of relationality and feminist legal theory with queer and transnational women-of-color feminisms. Current poststructuralist and legal frameworks, however, often sidestep how political recognition of vulnerability can function as a mode of regulation, where the affects accompanying precariousness are directed toward antidemocratic policies. Part 2 therefore argues that vulnerability methodologies have ambivalent political ramifications, licensing forms of protectionist violence as well as drawing attention to systemic forms of precarity. It explores the racialized and gendered politics of vulnerability and protection undergirding the role of stand-your-ground laws in Trayvon Martin’s murder and George Zimmerman’s trial, highlighting the ambivalent ways sociolegal frameworks recognize some forms of vulnerability and write others out of existence. Part 3 concludes by discussing the practices that progressive vulnerability approaches should embrace and avoid.


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pp. 1-32
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