Kissing Cousins: Racism, Homophobia and Compulsory Able-Bodiedness in the Controversy Over Inter-Cousin Marriage

Jindal Global Law Review, JGLR, Volume 4, Issue 2, November 2013

28 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2015

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

This article analyses cousin couples as a contested form of intimacy in relation to racism, homophobia and compulsory able-bodiedness. Looking at representational and regulatory practices from the politico-legal realm, cousin couple advocacy and popular culture, I demonstrate that each discourse is in conversation with the others. I first consider procreative objections to inter-racial and same-sex marriage and compare them to arguments made about inter-cousin marriage in U.S. law and recent calls to discourage cousin marriages in England and prohibit them in the Netherlands. Next, I analyse how the ‘Cousin Couples’ website advocates on behalf of inter- cousin relationships by invoking the race analogy while at the same time failing to address the impact of consanguinity laws on racialised communities. Of particular note are the conspicuous absence of a same-sex marriage analogy in the editorial arguments in ‘Cousin Couples’, and the ways stigmatisation is transferred to people with disabilities. Finally, I analyse a recent U.S. film, Kissing Cousins, which centres on a budding romance between cousins of South Asian origin. While the film confronts the cousin taboo, it attempts to buy acceptability through consumerist identifications and ends by retreating to hegemonic scripts, particularly with recourse to assimilationist paradigms for racialised citizens. In all of the examined discursive arenas, racialisation, procreation and disability become sites of othering, while same-sex desire comes to occupy a more ambivalent position, sometimes seen as analogous to or overlapping with, and other times as distinguishable from, other issues surrounding cousin couples.

Suggested Citation

Khan, Ummni, Kissing Cousins: Racism, Homophobia and Compulsory Able-Bodiedness in the Controversy Over Inter-Cousin Marriage (2013). Jindal Global Law Review, JGLR, Volume 4, Issue 2, November 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2658832

Ummni Khan (Contact Author)

Carleton University ( email )

1125 colonel By Drive
Ontario K1S 5B6

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