Stranger Anxiety: Failed Legal Equivalences and the Challenges of Intimate Recognition in Taiwan
This article examines the power of law to constitute which intimacies are deemed legitimate for a larger project of national reproduction. It focuses on two contested marriage cases in Taiwan that involved a transnational union and a transgender marriage. The article introduces the concept of “stranger anxiety” to underscore the legal and bureaucratic work necessary to constitute heterosexual marriage as the basis for citizenship inclusion. Working from these two cases, the article analyzes how the Taiwanese government produces an equivalence between heterosexual unions and citizenship eligibility and how it uses law to mold diverse intimacies to fit normative models of domesticity and binary sex/gender. By asking what social imaginaries and intimate relations are foreclosed as a consequence, the article interprets these proliferations of law and bureaucratic discretion as signs of intense anxiety concerning the status of the heterosexual family and the place of the stranger within the nation.