Zombie law: conjugality, annulment and the (married) living dead
Brook, Heather Jane
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This article deploys and extends Ulrich Beck’s critique of ‘zombie categories’ (Beck in J Consum Cult 1 (2):261–277, 2001) to consider how conjugal relationships are brought into being before the law. The argument presented here is that sexual performatives relating to marriage—and especially, in this instance, consummation—continue to produce a kind of social-legal magic, even as the social flesh of their enactment is rotting. Rules concerning annulment relating to wedding ceremonies, consent, disclosure, and consummation demonstrate that certain frameworks of conjugality involve a kind of corporeal magic animating the privileged place of heterosexual marriage. Thus, rules and regulations pertaining to weddings continue to produce and protect heterogendered, sexually dimorphous bodies, even though this privileging is—or at least, is becoming—socially obsolete.