Ruling Sexuality: Law, Expertise, and the Making of Sexual Knowledge


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation asks how legal bureaucracies attempt to objectively measure the subjective phenomenon of sexuality for legal decision-making in the United States in order to analyze how measurement and classification processes get institutionalized in the law. Juxtaposing two sites where individuals must prove their sexualities—asylum claims by sexual minorities and risk assessments of sex offenders—this project argues that science and law coproduce sexuality as a regulatory category and cooperate to render sexual subjects legible to, and thus manageable by, the state. It shows that different networks of expertise formed to support competing conceptions of sexuality in each area of law, resulting in divergent ways of understanding sexuality and disparate governance outcomes.