Join us to for Jessa Lingel's WIP, "The Polygraph’s Sexual Politics"
Although the technical and psychological accuracy of the polygraph has been contested almost since the device’s inception, it continues to enjoy substantial popularity throughout North America within law enforcement and federal agencies. This paper excavates the sexual politics of the polygraph, focused on two key arenas where the polygraph has been a popular and powerful tool: identifying LGBTQ applicants and employees within federal agencies and determining parole for convicted sex offenders. Key questions guiding our analysis include: What are the relationships between the polygraph and disciplining sexual deviance? How does the polygraph fit within a larger history of surveilling and controlling sexual alterity? Drawing on theories of affect and spectacle, we unravel the polygraph’s role as an accomplice to state-sanctioned projects of heteronormativity. Through analysis of training materials, practitioner memoirs and policy guidelines, we situate the polygraph as an early precursor to surveillance infrastructure that targets deviant sexuality.