Monogamy’s Nature: Colonial Sexual Science and Its Naturecultural Fruits
This chapter is a genealogy of monogamy as an object of sexual scientific knowledge. It reads historic contest over monogamy’s nature through the dependence of that debate on a colonial archive, that is, on knowledges of the cultures of colonized populations as evidence. The naturecultural fruit of this history, monogamy’s nature must be understood as fundamentally entangled with the politics of race and nation. The chapter insists that when we begin from data as an approach to “the material,” the conditions of intelligibility for the measured bioscientific object “itself” are obscured. A queer feminist critical materialist approach to bodies requires a long memory. Drawing on Michel Foucault, Ann Laura Stoler, and other theorists of the history of sexuality and colonization, this chapter reads monogamy discourse in Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Havelock Ellis’s seminal works in order to frame analysis of the racial politics of contemporary debates on monogamy’s nature.