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The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America)

Canaday, Margot

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The Straight State is the most expansive study of the federal regulation of homosexuality yet written. Unearthing startling new evidence from the National Archives, Margot Canaday shows how the state systematically came to penalize homosexuality, giving rise to a regime of second-class citizenship that sexual minorities still live under today.


Canaday looks at three key arenas of government control--immigration, the military, and welfare--and demonstrates how federal enforcement of sexual norms emerged with the rise of the modern bureaucratic state. She begins at the turn of the twentieth century when the state first stumbled upon evidence of sex and gender nonconformity, revealing how homosexuality was policed indirectly through the exclusion of sexually "degenerate" immigrants and other regulatory measures aimed at combating poverty, violence, and vice. Canaday argues that the state's gradual awareness of homosexuality intensified during the later New Deal and through the postwar period as policies were enacted that explicitly used homosexuality to define who could enter the country, serve in the military, and collect state benefits. Midcentury repression was not a sudden response to newly visible gay subcultures, Canaday demonstrates, but the culmination of a much longer and slower process of state-building during which the state came to know and to care about homosexuality across many decades.


Social, political, and legal history at their most compelling, The Straight State explores how regulation transformed the regulated: in drawing boundaries around national citizenship, the state helped to define the very meaning of homosexuality in America.


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"A groundbreaking study that wholly revises our understanding of sexuality, citizenship, and the state. Canaday asks how and why the emerging federal bureaucracy came to define, regulate, and exclude gay men and lesbians, and her answers take us into the inner workings of the state's policing machinery. This is an important book."--Joanne Meyerowitz, author of How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States


"In this brilliant retelling of the making of American citizenship, Margot Canaday links changing understandings of national identity to changing understandings of sexuality. Her indefatigable research and wise analysis demonstrate that political judgments about immigration, military service, and welfare have been soaked with judgments about what counts as normal--or 'degenerate'--sex. The history of federal bureaucracy is suddenly a page-turner."--Linda K. Kerber, author of No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship


"This is a terrific, complex, highly original, revelatory book. Canaday very effectively argues that the powers of the federal state and the definition of 'a homosexual' as a person grew up in dynamic relation to one another in the first half of the twentieth century. Every chapter contains fascinating new material, superbly shaped to advance her narrative. I am sure this will be an influential book."--Nancy F. Cott, author of Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation


About the Author:

Margot Canaday is assistant professor of history at Princeton University.

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Book Description Princeton University Press, 2011. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Winner of the 2012 Order of the Coif Biennial Book Award Winner of the 2011 John Boswell Prize, Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History Winner of the 2010 Ellis W. Hawley Prize, awarded by the Organization of American Historians. Winner of the 2010 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Studies by the Lambda Literary Foundation Co-Winner of the 2010 Gladys M. Kammerer Award, American Political Science Association Winner of the 2010 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize, American Studies Association Winner of the 2010 Cromwell Book Prize, American Society for Legal History. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0691149933

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