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Adrienne Davis - "Irregular Intimacies: Polygamy, Race, and the Sexual Politics of Democracy"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - 4:45pm

Kaufman Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall

Adrienne Davis (Vice Provost; William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, Washington University, St. Louis)


“Don’t Let Nobody Bother Yo’ Principle: The Sexual Economy of American Slavery,” 
Sister Circle: Black Women and Work 
(ed. S. Harley), Rutgers University Press (2002).
“Regulating Polygamy: Intimacy, Default Rules, and Bargaining for Equality,” 
110 Columbia Law Review 1955 (2010). 
This article is quite lengthy, so if it needs to be cut down, please read pages 1955-1998.

At face value, polygamy, prostitution, and pet inheritance have nothing in common beyond being socially marginal practices. This lecture connects these three as examples of intimate connections and practices that are typically viewed as deviant and dismissed as threats to equality, family, and even democracy. This lecture argues that, taken together, these three practices embody irregular intimacy and all of the challenges it poses for law and culture. The lecture will explore how each of these practices is situated at the intersection of social power and legal regulation and uses them to trace various modes and trajectories of law in post-modernity. In particular, the lecture will explore the crisis that irregular intimacy poses for liberalism and the democratic state.

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