The Racialization of White Man's Polygamy




This paper offers a genealogy of anti-polygamy sentiment in North America, elucidating certain racist and nationalist formations that are implicit in the historical valorization and enforcement of heterosexual monogamy. It tracks the white supremacist and heteronormative logic that conditions the widespread disdain toward polygamy, and that renders it fundamentally different from familial configurations that are associated with national identity. Relating political and philosophical doctrines to the archival documentation and insights of contemporary legal and cultural historians of anti-polygamy sentiment, it elucidates the racial Anglo-Saxonism of Hegel's ruminations on marriage and on the state, and highlights its reverberation within the political philosophy that justified the criminalization of polygamy and its supporting institutions in the nineteenth century and in contemporary immigration policy and same-sex marriage advocacy in Canada and the United States.