Possessive Attachments: Identity Beliefs, Equality Law and the Politics of State Play

Theory, Culture and Society 35 (2):115-135 (2018)
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One feature of the neo/liberal possessive self is the propertied character of certain beliefs: treated as belonging to those who hold them, recognized and supported in acting on the world, and protected. While an ownership paradigm predates anti-discrimination and human rights regimes, these regimes have consolidated and extended the propertied status of certain identity beliefs in ways that naturalize and siloize them. But if beliefs’ propertied character is politically problematic, can it be unsettled and reformed? This paper considers one possible mode for doing so, namely play. Oftentimes, play works to secure and assert the propertied attachments people have to their beliefs; but some forms of play offer other possibilities. Focusing on the state as a complex site of play relations and encounters, this article explores how state play engages identity beliefs in a contemporary legal drama of colliding beliefs between conservative Christians and liberal gay equality advocates.



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