Abstract: Considerable socio-legal scholarship demonstrates law’s constitutive power, and much criminological research has considered the effects of actuarial risk assessment. However, these strands have rarely been brought together to consider how legal risk assessment practices constitute sexual subjects. This article argues that law and forensic psychology co-constitute the category of the ‘sexually violent predator’ (SVP) as a distinct type of person through the use of psychiatric diagnosis and actuarial risk assessment. Contrary to dominant views of actuarialism as de-individualizing, this article asserts that SVP proceedings are centrally concerned with individualized intervention, yet such proceedings continue to produce static risk subjects rather than the dynamic subjects identified in recent research on actuarial practices. It is argued that this stems from entrenched cultural views of sexuality as a fixed essence inherent in individuals. The risk assemblage in SVP proceedings therefore presents a unique theoretical case that does not clearly fit prevailing accounts of actuarialism.
Abstract: Using court decisions, interviews with legal actors, and ethnographic observations, this paper analyzes the development of sexual identity classifications for sexual minorities seeking asylum in the United States and argues that the adjudication of such claims works to consolidate and regulate sexual identities but also creates possibilities for recognizing marginalized queer identities. Asylum seekers must prove their sexual identities, and immigration officials must classify claimants as belonging to a protected group. At the inception of queer asylum law in 1990, protected categories were highly circumscribed, but the indeterminacy of the law allowed advocates and asylum seekers to challenge existing categories and stake out new claims based on their sexualities. Against the backdrop of extant criticisms of the asylum process for queers, this paper suggests that the way asylum law has been elaborated, adapted, and interpreted, particularly in approximately the past decade, offers possibilities for making unique identity claims that are not recognized in existing scholarship.
Abstract: Using document analysis and ethnographic field work, this article examines the debate within the LGBTQ community of Kansas City over the decision to hold its Pride festival in the Power and Light District (P&L), a renewed downtown area with a controversial dress code. Despite the developers’ and city’s goals of creating a cosmopolitan urban space that welcomed diverse populations, the P&L acquired a reputation as an anti-Black, anti-queer space due to its dress code and redevelopment history. I argue that the debate surrounding this controversy reveals limits to notions of diversity and diverging approaches to sexual politics within the LGBTQ community that are normally obscured by political actors within the movement but that work to create symbolic boundaries that exclude “non-respectable” members of the LGBTQ population. Recovering queer perspectives allows us to imagine a more capacious definition of diversity and inclusion, both within the LGBTQ movement and in urban space.