Nation and Miscegenation: Comparing Anti-Miscegenation Regulations in North America

Nation and Miscegenation: Comparing Anti-Miscegenation Regulations in North America

Canadian Political Science Association
80th Annual Conference
2008-06-04 through 2008-06-06

Paper Dated: 2008-05

Debra Thompson, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Ohio University

Nearly forty years after Loving v. Virginia, the historical prohibition of interracial relationships in the United States exemplifies the state’s regulation of intimate life.  Anti-miscegenation laws were not simply about the prevention interracial sexual relations; rather, the discourse also concerned the transgression of gendered/raced social boundaries, the exposure of raced/gendered sexualities, the threat of non-white access to white capital, and the potential of mixed-race progeny and the predicament of racial categorization.  While a number of legal and historical studies consider the emergence and existence of anti-miscegenation laws in the United States (Williamson, 1980; Davis, 1991;) comparative studies on this subject in political science are virtually non-existent.  However, the Canadian state also enacted antimiscegenation laws in the same era throughout various Indian Act regimes and informally regulated other white/non-white sexual relations.  This paper will explore the similarities and differences among discourses of anti-miscegenation in North America, seeking to demonstrate that: a) the decision to enact formal legislation can be partially attributed to a number of factors, including the demographic size of the non-white population and the threat posed by mixed-race progeny to the dominant group’s access to power, privilege and resources; b) contrary to the popular belief of the so-called ‘tolerance’ of Canadians, racist sentiments towards non-whites existed during the same era that anti-miscegenation laws were created and implemented in the United States; and c) the differences in anti-miscegenation regulation in Canada and the United States are strongly linked to discourses of white masculine nationalism.

Read the entire paper here.

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