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Sorting Sexualities

Expertise and the Politics of Legal Classification

Sorting Sexualities

Expertise and the Politics of Legal Classification

In Sorting Sexualities, Stefan Vogler deftly unpacks the politics of the techno-legal classification of sexuality in the United States. His study focuses specifically on state classification practices around LGBTQ people seeking asylum in the United States and sexual offenders being evaluated for carceral placement—two situations where state actors must determine individuals’ sexualities. Though these legal settings are diametrically opposed—one a punitive assessment, the other a protective one—they present the same question: how do we know someone’s sexuality?

In this rich ethnographic study, Vogler reveals how different legal arenas take dramatically different approaches to classifying sexuality and use those classifications to legitimate different forms of social control. By delving into the histories behind these diverging classification practices and analyzing their contemporary reverberations, Vogler shows how the science of sexuality is far more central to state power than we realize. 

280 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2021

Gender and Sexuality

Law and Legal Studies: Law and Society

Sociology: Individual, State and Society, Medical Sociology


"Sorting Sexualities is a wonderful big-picture book, superbly researched and subtly theorized. It is an original and timely contribution to legal studies, social studies of science, and sexuality studies. We have many good monographs on the legal regulation of a single sexual minority at a point in time. But by comparing and contrasting what counts as legal evidence for different purposes, Vogler's ambitious study shows that both the law and the science of sexuality are highly fragmented."

Mariana Valverde, University of Toronto

"This is brilliant stuff. The book is helpful in thinking through the way the state views categories, knowledge, and classificatory systems. It is satisfying in the best ways: I’ve read it twice and want to return to it—I continue to want to think about it. It is an excellent piece of scholarship that makes novel claims regarding state power, sexuality, identity, and expertise—and will push scholarship in those areas forward. Absolutely fascinating."

Renée Cramer, Drake University

"A fantastic achievement. Virtually unparalleled in scope, evidence, and analytic precision, Vogler has cut through the scientific and legal discourse surrounding two confounding subjects of the twenty-first century: the LGBTQ asylee and the sex offender. Unafraid to make dangerous comparisons or ask disquieting questions about the production of sexual natures, Vogler has exposed a vast network of social actors, technologies, knowledge-production practices, and subject-producing institutions that have broad implications for how sexualities are made and remade across registers of society. This book will be a classic of STS, queer, and critical legal studies."

Patrick R. Grzanka, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Table of Contents


1: Kissing Cousins: Queerness, Crime, and the Politics of Knowing
2: Seeing Sexuality Like a State
3: Forensic Psychology, Complicit Expertise, and the Legitimation of Law
4: Insurgent Expertise and the Hybrid Network of LGBTQ Asylum
5: Asylum Seekers and Signs of Queerness
6: Sex Offenders and the Detection of Deviance
7: Queer Subjects and the Construction of Risky Countries
8: Sexual Predators and the Constitution of Dangerous Individuals
Conclusion: Sexuality, Science, and Citizenship in the Twenty-First Century

Appendix 1: Static-99R Coding Form
Appendix 2: Methodology

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