Eithne Luibhéid

“(Un)bounding Distinctions Between Citizens and Migrants Through Sexualities and Intimacies”

Queer debates about recognizing same-sex couples for purposes of immigration have become deeply polarized between those who view the issue as urgent, and those who view it as complicitous with neoliberal homonationalism. Bringing scholarship about the social construction of the undocumented immigrant into critical dialogue with queer theory, this paper broadens the debate beyond these polarities to suggest a critical agenda for queer engagement with questions about who gets legal status or not, and why. The paper argues that sexualities and intimacies provide the means to constitute, but also potentially blur, the status distinctions between citizen, legal migrant, and the undocumented. I provide historical examples to illustrate this process; describe recent legal and social changes that have altered how these status distinctions get constituted yet sometimes blurred; and raise questions about possibilities for envisoning queer intimacies and sexualities that further challenge these status distinctions.