Ornament and law

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Who constitute "natural persons"? How do we move from a biological person to a legal standing? And what does a superficial, minor, and feminized category like the ornament have to do with these large questions? This chapter introduces a case that is little known but arguably one of the most significant habeas corpus cases in the nineteenth century in order to track the surprisingly critical role that racialized and feminized objects played in forming juridical ideas of natural and unnatural persons, legal and illegal subjects, citizenship and criminality. What this case reveals about how a body comes to be legally discernible holds profound implications and challenges for how we conceptualize citizenship and civil rights today.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhallacies
Subtitle of host publicationHistorical Intersections of Disability and Masculinity
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780190456368
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Anti-Chinese discrimination
  • Asiatic femininity
  • Citizenship
  • Immigration
  • Legal personhood
  • Ornament


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