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1 Ethnicity & Sexuality

1 Ethnicity & Sexuality

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Annu. Rev. Sociol. 2000. 26:107–33Copyrightc
2000 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved
Joane Nagel
 Department of Sociology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045;e-mail: nagel@ukans.edu
Key Words
race, ethnicity, nationalism, sexuality, queer theory
This paper explores the connections between ethnicity and sexuality.Racial, ethnic, and national boundaries are also sexual boundaries. The borderlandsdividing racial, ethnic, and national identities and communities constitute ethnosexualfrontiers,eroticintersectionsthatareheavilypatrolled,policed,andprotected,yetregu-larlyarepenetratedbyindividualsforgingsexuallinkswithethnic“others.Normativeheterosexualityisacentralcomponentofracial,ethnic,andnationalistideologies;bothadherence to and deviation from approved sexual identities and behaviors define andreinforce racial, ethnic, and nationalist regimes. To illustrate the ethnicity/sexualitynexus and to show the utility of revealing this intimate bond for understanding eth-nic relations, I review constructionist models of ethnicity and sexuality in the socialsciences and humanities, and I discuss ethnosexual boundary processes in several his-torical and contemporary settings: the sexual policing of nationalism, sexual aspectsof US–American Indian relations, and the sexualization of the black-white color line.
US Army photographers documented the liberation of France from German Nazioccupation by Allied forces in August 1944. The image captured in Figure 1 is anow-famous picture of two women who were accused of sexually collaboratingwith the Nazis in occupied France during the Second World War. In the pho-tograph are visible the women’s shaved heads, shoeless feet, stripped clothing,and swastikas tattooed on the women’s foreheads. A young Frenchwoman, whosefather was in the French resistance, described the fate of French women who weresimilarly identified as Nazi collaborators.The war was not finished, but in Paris it assumed another form—moreperverse, more degrading
. . .
The “shorn woman” of rue Petit-Musc
. . .
walked along with her wedge-soled shoes tied around her neck, stiff likethose undergoing a major initiation. Her face was frozen like a Buddha, hercarriage tense and superb in the midst of a shouting, screeching mob of facescontorted by hatred, groping and opportunistic hands, eyes congested byexcitement, festivity, sexuality, sadism (Weitz 1995:277).
   A  n  n  u .   R  e  v .   S  o  c   i  o   l .   2   0   0   0 .   2   6  :   1   0   7  -   1   3   3 .   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m   a  r   j  o  u  r  n  a   l  s .  a  n  n  u  a   l  r  e  v   i  e  w  s .  o  r  g   b  y   B   O   I   S   E   S   T   A   T   E   U   N   I   V   E   R   S   I   T   Y  o  n   0   5   /   2   7   /   0   8 .   F  o  r  p  e  r  s  o  n  a   l  u  s  e  o  n   l  y .
Figure 1
This picture was published in a pictorial history of World War Two (Ambrose1997:492). On the adjacent page of that volume is another photograph. It shows amanonhiskneeswithablindfoldoverhiseyes;heisjustabouttobeexecutedwithashottothehead.HeisalsoaFrenchcollaborator,butthedifferenceintheimagesand the treatment of the women and the man speak volumes about the sexualizedand gendered nature of patriotism, treason, betrayal, and the relation and relativeimportance of men and women to the nation.First, we can see that national and sexual boundaries are mutually reinforcing,since implicit in the meaning of national boundaries (“who are we?”) are certainprescriptions and proscriptions for sexual crossings. In this case, “our” women
   A  n  n  u .   R  e  v .   S  o  c   i  o   l .   2   0   0   0 .   2   6  :   1   0   7  -   1   3   3 .   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m   a  r   j  o  u  r  n  a   l  s .  a  n  n  u  a   l  r  e  v   i  e  w  s .  o  r  g   b  y   B   O   I   S   E   S   T   A   T   E   U   N   I   V   E   R   S   I   T   Y  o  n   0   5   /   2   7   /   0   8 .   F  o  r  p  e  r  s  o  n  a   l  u  s  e  o  n   l  y .
should not be having sex with “their” (particularly “enemy”) men. Second, is theubiquitous double standard that applies to many sexual boundaries: “our” men canhave consensual sex, rape, or even sexually enslave “their” women and not havetheir heads shaved, nor will they be tattooed and paraded around the town.
Indeed,intimesofwar,“ourwomenmightevenwanttodotheirpatrioticdutyby making themselves sexually available to “our” men while the sexual policelooktheotherway—aslongasinternalracialorethnicboundariesarenotviolated(see Enloe 1990, Saunders 1995, Smith 1988). Another lesson to be learned fromthis tale of punishing women sexual collaborators is that their rule breaking wasseizedasanopportunitytoreinforceandreestablishsexual,gender,andnationalisthegemony. By disciplining women collaborators, proper sexual demeanor andapprovedethnosexualpartnerswerepubliclyproclaimed.Thenationalsexualorderwas reinstated—a place for every man and woman and everyone in their place.In this paper, I review the growing literature in the social sciences and thehumanitiesthatdocumentsnotonlythesexualsubstructureofnationalistidentities,boundaries, and processes, but also the sexualized nature of race and ethnicity—two common building blocks of nationalism. I discuss the interrelatedness of race,ethnicity, nationalism, and sexuality, outline contemporary constructionist modelsof ethnicity and sexuality, and review some of the more recent literature linkingrace, ethnicity, and nationalism with sexuality.
My analyses in the pages that follow rest upon social constructionist models of ethnicity and sexuality that stand in contrast to primordialist views of ethnic-ity and essentialist views of sexuality (Masters & Johnson 1966, Shaw & Wong1989, van den Berghe 1978). This difference in language—“primordialist” ver-sus “essentialist”—reflects, in part, the different intellectual sites where the the-orizing has occurred. Social constructionist models of ethnicity emerged in thesocial sciences, primarily in the 1970s (Barth 1969, Horowitz 1975, Yancey et al1976). Although the early work of Foucault (1978) shaped subsequent construc-tionist thinking about sexuality, currently influential models emerged mainly inthe humanities—cultural studies, gender studies, queer theory—primarily in the1980s and 1990s (Butler 1990, de Lauretis 1987, Grosz 1994, Haraway 1991,Sedgwick 1990; for an earlier sociological constructionist model of sexuality, seeGagnon & Simon 1973).Ihavefoundmoresimilaritiesthandifferencesinconstructionistthinkingaboutethnicity and sexuality in the social sciences and humanities, but there is little
At least I have found no reports of this practice as retribution for male sexual misbehavior,and in fact, Japan has yet to make satisfactory restitution to Korean and Filipina “comfortwomenwhoweresexuallyenslavedduringtheSecondWorldWar(seeHicks1995,Howard1995, Mydans 1996).
   A  n  n  u .   R  e  v .   S  o  c   i  o   l .   2   0   0   0 .   2   6  :   1   0   7  -   1   3   3 .   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m   a  r   j  o  u  r  n  a   l  s .  a  n  n  u  a   l  r  e  v   i  e  w  s .  o  r  g   b  y   B   O   I   S   E   S   T   A   T   E   U   N   I   V   E   R   S   I   T   Y  o  n   0   5   /   2   7   /   0   8 .   F  o  r  p  e  r  s  o  n  a   l  u  s  e  o  n   l  y .

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