Race, Ethnicity, and Sexuality: Intimate Intersections, Forbidden Frontiers
Morales-Diaz, Enrique, Ethnic Studies Review
One of the most significant points about Joane Nagel's text is its broad approach to the idea that ethnicity is sexualized and that the boundaries that on the surface seem to separate the two concepts are actually extremely thin and transparent. Thus, according to Nagel, "Ethnicity and sexuality are strained, but not strange bedfellows" (14). She supports this statement throughout her text, providing specific examples to argue her case. Her approach to the subject at hand also coincides with her goals for the book, "to illustrate the power and ubiquity of sexuality as a feature of racial, ethnic, and national identities, boundaries, and tensions" (4). Another one of her goals is connected to the broad approach to the subject matter; that readers will be inspired to undertake more specific research based on cases that she presents.
Nagel's first two chapters focus on more theoretical approaches that explain how she comes to the conclusion that ethnicity and sexuality have been mutually connected throughout various historical events such as the conquest and colonization of North America, the slave trade and "racial mixing." One concept that she continuously refers to is "Ethnosexual frontiers" which she defines as "erotic locations and exotic destinations that are surveilled and supervised, patrolled and policed, regulated and restricted, but that are constantly penetrated by individuals forging sexual links with ethnic Others across ethnic boundaries" (14). The next two chapters in her book are primarily focused on the United States and this nation's own experiences with ethnosexual frontiers. Chapter three looks at the process of conquest and colonization with a particular focus on the interactions, relationships and "intimacies" between European settlers and the native populations that were already established in the New World. She states that one of the ways that explorers would justify their treatment (suppression, oppression, conversion) of the Native was to portray them in sexual terms, making multiple references to nudity and "supposed" sexual practices undertaken which established clear differences between the two groups at the moment of encounter. The accounts on the part of the colonizers had a lasting impact on readers, and as scholars such as Stuart Hall and Jan Neverdeen Pieterse state, the labels, stereotypes and attitudes shared by the colonizers were not new to those developed during encounters with the New World Natives. …