Racial ideas and gendered intimacies: The regulation of interracial relationships in North America

Debra Thompson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This article compares the regulation of interracial intimacies in North America, contending that anti-miscegenation laws in the United States and Canada's Indian Act regimes are both striking and comparable examples of the state's regulation of the intimate sphere. The author argues that the social signifiers of race and gender, tied together with sexuality, are interlocking sets of power relations and these intersecting discourses are integral to understanding the comparative regulation of interracial intimacy in North America. In the circumstances of anti-miscegenation laws and the Indian Act, the transgression of gendered/raced social boundaries, the control of raced/gendered sexualities, the interlocking and mutually reinforcing nature of patriarchal, white supremacist and capitalist systems of domination, the threat of non-white access to white capital, and the predicament of racial categorization exist as a corollary of the state's regulation of interracial intimate life. This article reveals the law and state as important sites of the creation and manipulation of racial boundaries, acting as producers and reproducers of racial ideas, and demonstrates that the interracial transgressions of sexual space were also perceived as transgressions of social, economic, and political boundaries between races, posing a threat to the dominant white and masculine hegemony in North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-371
Number of pages19
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Gender
  • Indian Act
  • Intersectionality
  • Miscegenation
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • Law


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