Michael Yarbrough

Michael Yarbrough

Michael Yarbrough
Assistant Professor
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PhD, Yale University (Sociology)

JD, Yale Law School

BA, University of Chicago (Sociology)


Michael W. Yarbrough is an interdisciplinary social scientist who studies how law shapes the ways people define their relationships with each other, with a particular emphasis on marriage. His current book manuscript is a study of South Africa, the only jurisdiction in the world that has recently opened its marriage laws to two previously excluded forms of marriage: same-sex marriages, and marriages under indigenous systems of African customary law. Articles from this project have been published in Social PoliticsLaw & Social Inquiry, and Sexualities, and earlier versions of the project received the Marvin B. Sussman Dissertation Prize from the Yale Sociology Department and a Fulbright-Hays fellowship. Yarbrough has published other work on South African marriage and family in the South African Review of Sociology and the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism.
Yarbrough has also recently published three co-edited volumes (with Angela Jones and Joseph Nicholas DeFilippison queer families and relationships, activism, and political priorities after the arrival of same-sex marriage rights. Published with Routledge in 2018 as the After Marriage Equality series, these volumes build on a conference Yarbrough conceived and co-organized that brought 450 scholars, activists, and community members to John Jay to examine how LGBTQ communities and movements are changing after the legalization of same-sex marriage.
At John Jay, Yarbrough’s teaching focuses on the Law & Society major and received a Distinguished Teaching Prize in 2015. He is especially interested in undergraduate research, and he is currently working with his faculty colleagues to develop a large project in which Law & Society students at John Jay research how law shapes inequality within their own communities. Outside of John Jay, Yarbrough serves as a Senior Research Associate of the Department of Sociology at the University of Johannesburg, and he is a former member of the Board of Directors for CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies.

Course Taught

LWS 200: Introduction to Law & Society

LWS 225: Introduction to Research in Law & Society

LWS 425: Colloquium for Research in Law & Society

Scholarly Work

Edited Volumes
cover of Queer Families and Relationships After Marriage Equality cover of The Unfinished Queer Agenda After Marriagecover of Queer Activism After Marriage Equality
2018. Michael W. Yarbrough, Angela Jones, and Joseph Nicholas DeFilippis, eds. Queer Families and Relationships After Marriage Equality. New York: Routledge
2018. Angela Jones, Joseph Nicholas DeFilippis, and Michael W. Yarbrough, eds. The Unfinished Queer Agenda After Marriage Equality. New York: Routledge.
2018. Joseph Nicholas DeFilippis, Michael W. Yarbrough, and Angela Jones, eds. Queer Activism After Marriage Equality. New York: Routledge.
2018. “Something Old, Something New: Same-Sex Marriage and Ongoing Struggles over African Marriage in South Africa.” Sexualities 21(7): 1092-1108. doi:10.1177/1363460717718507.
2018. “Very Long Engagements: The Persistent Authority of Bridewealth in a Post-Apartheid South African Community.” Law & Social Inquiry 43(3): 647-77. doi:10.1111/lsi.12275.
2015. “South African Marriage in Policy and Practice: A Dynamic Story.” South African Review of Sociology 46(4): 5-23. doi:10.1080/21528586.2015.1100095.
2015. “Toward a Political Sociology of Conjugal-Recognition Regimes: Gendered Multiculturalism in South African Marriage Law.” Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society 22(3): 456-94. doi:10.1093/sp/jxv016.
2012. “When Symbolic Action Fails: Illustrations from Small-Claims Court.” Qualitative Sociology Review 8(3): 44-57. Available at http://www.qualitativesociologyreview.org/ENG/Volume24/QSR_9_1_Yarbrough....
2007. “South Africa’s Wedding Jitters: Consolidation, Abolition, or Proliferation?” Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 18(2): 497-521. Available at http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjlf/vol18/iss2/5/.
Chinese translation published in 2018:
Michael W. Yarbrough. 南非的婚姻震动:巩固、废除或再生. Yang Junfei, trans. Review on Law, Shanghai International Studies University (in press).
Book Chapter
2018. “Introduction: For Better or for Worse? Relational Landscapes in the Time of Same-Sex Marriage.” In Michael W. Yarbrough, Joseph Nicholas DeFilippis, and Angela Jones, eds. Queer Families and Relationships After Marriage Equality. New York: Routledge.
Manuscripts in Preparation
“A New Twist on the 'Un-African' Script: Representing Gay African Weddings in Democratic South Africa” (article manuscript)
“‘I Now Pronounce You...’: Marital Status and the Everyday Life of Law in Post-Apartheid South Africa” (book manuscript)
Publications for the General Public
2015. “Clearing a Path to Liberation?” contexts.org, July 7. Available at: https://contexts.org/blog/clearing-a-path-to-liberation/.
Area of Expertise

Faculty Expertise: topics/keywords

marriage and family; gender, sexuality, and race; LGBTQ communities and politics; law in everyday life; post-colonial law and society; political and cultural sociology; South Africa
Online Presence

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