This article interrogates feminist frameworks for understanding the racial and sexual politics of United States secularism. It theorizes the history of religious freedom law as a history of racial performance. Reading the aesthetic practices surrounding the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case and the subsequent consumer culture flurry around Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and building on accounts of religious freedom law as a vehicle for launching competing rights-based claims, the author shows the processes through which Hobby Lobby’s Christian family secured its religious exemption by conjuring ghosts of settler dispossession of indigenous people, even as an elderly Jewish justice was made to refuse submissive white femininity in the likeness of rapper Biggie Smalls. Circulated as competing minstrel brands, both performances consolidate the anti-Black and settler colonial grounds on which religious freedom laws—as well as some forms of mainstream protest against them—have flourished under neoliberal capitalism.
Family Corporation v. Minstrel Feminism: Reproducing Religious Freedom from Hobby Lobby to Notorious R.B.G.
lucia hulsether is an assistant professor of religious studies (with affiliations in gender studies, Black studies, and American studies) at Skidmore College. Her first monograph, Capitalist Humanitarianism, was published by Duke University Press in February 2023.
Lucia Hulsether; Family Corporation v. Minstrel Feminism: Reproducing Religious Freedom from Hobby Lobby to Notorious R.B.G.. differences 1 September 2023; 34 (2): 58–83. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-10713819
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