Forbidden Love: Controlling Partnerships Across Ethnoracial Boundaries

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Abstract

The freedom to love is something most of us take for granted. The reality is that partnerships across racial, cultural or religious lines have historically been problematized around the world. Laws prohibiting mixed unions were present in countless nations until very recently. This preoccupation with intermarriage is why it has been a leitmotiv in literature over the centuries and later on in cinema, from Shakespeare’s Othello and Romeo and Juliet, to Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. This chapter will provide a historical and anthropological analysis of state control over partnership formation, offering a number of cases around the world where nations have implemented anti-mixing laws. In these contexts, miscegenation (the mixing of people through marriage who were considered to be of different racial groups) was abhorred and treated as a deviance, as devoid of love, and, above all, as a threat to national integrity and the status quo. This exploration can help us to better understand the social, cultural, and political contexts in which restrictive views of coupling, family, and love have emerged, and to critically reflect on continued prejudices towards mixed unions that still exist in current times. Keywords: Love - Hybridity - Miscegenation - Intermarriage - Discrimination - Social exclusion.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationInternational Handbook of Love: Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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