Locke's Consuming Individual: A Theory of the Mixing Body

Hagar Kotef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article proposes that Locke’s basic property-mak-ing unit, and thus also contracting unit, is the household rather than the individual. Progressing through two parallel arguments concerning Locke’s theory of property—one focuses on the theory of mixing in Roman law and the other on more traditional understanding of labor—it shows how a plurality of people and animals is united under the rule of a single person, allowing the formal category of the individual to expand beyond its corporal limits, into the domestic domain. In some sense, this is an extended version of Pateman’s argument concerning the sexual contract, placing the latter within an intersectional framework that moves beyond the question of kinship and the family to the economic questions of class and production, as well as colonial questions of expansion and racial hierarchization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-433
Number of pages15
JournalTheory and Event
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Johns Hopkins University Press.


This article has been worked through for quite some time, with the help and productive comments of many. I would like to thank Teresa Bejan, and all those attending the Oxford Political Thought Seminar, for their useful thoughts and comments; Monica Brito Vieira and all those attending my presentations at The Political Theory workshop at York University; and Jeanne Morefield, Charlotte Epstein, Sharon Stanley and Jessica Whyte for the WPSA panel with which this article began. Many thanks also for Cristina Beltran and Elisabeth Anker for this fantastic stage and for their utter support.

FundersFunder number
Teresa Bejan
York University


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