An Interview with Marcia Ochoa: How She Envisions the Future of GLQ

Recently we had the opportunity to talk to Marcia Ochoa about her new role as co-editor of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies and learn more about what she has planned for the journal’s future. Ochoa will serve as co-editor of GLQ for the next five years. In addition to her work on GLQ as co-editor and special issue editor of two recent issues entitled “On the Visceral,” parts One and Two, Ochoa also serves on the editorial board of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and published “Queen for a Day: Transformistas, Beauty Queens, and the Performance of Femininity in Venezuela,” with Duke University Press.

How did you come to be editor of GLQ?

ddglq_20_4I have been a reader of GLQ for many years. I was really honored to be asked by Beth Freeman who I think was looking for somebody who was in the social sciences who also had some understanding of the journal and understood its theoretical orientation. I was asked last year and was really happy to accept the editorship. I think part of it came out of the work I did with Sharon Holland and Kyla Wazana Tompkins on the “On the Visceral” Parts One and Two, which was a really wonderful process of building intellectual community, understanding the very generous and generative and rigorous peer review process we have in place at GLQ, and seeing some of back end—what does it take to put a journal together? So that was fascinating. I’m really a system oriented person, I like when systems come together so I was really happy to help out. I was mostly focused on, in addition to the curatorship of the content, I was really attentive to making sure the files were in order and making sure things were moving along the way they needed to.

What are some under researched areas you hope to publish in the future?

ddglq_21_1I think GLQ has done a really nice job of bringing in research from all kinds of fields. I’ve been really excited to see the science studies and feminist science studies that have come out recently in GLQ. It has always been very strong in the humanities and literature in particular. I’m really excited at—having been part of the Association for Queer Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association—seeing GLQ expand its offerings in queer anthropology and in the social sciences more broadly, in the way that really deepens its theoretical innovation. I think as a journal of social theory and queer theory, GLQ has an excellent reputation. Because of some of the historical kinds of reductionism in some kinds of social sciences, the social sciences haven’t been the place to develop that. As an anthropologist, I come at social sciences as a place where we can talk about complexity and not reducing things. I’m always very in dialogue with humanistic approaches. I’m really looking forward to offering more in the social sciences.

I’m also really invested in having a lot more in the global south reflected in the pages of GLQ. I think queer theory as an analytic has really travelled well. And it’s not about replacing local categories of meaning with the word queer in a way that erases the particularities of that meaning, but for me it’s really about what can queer do for us in the different places. How can we use queer as a way to put all different forms of being in dialogue with each other? What would queer theory look like if we centered the experiences of people in the global south or marginalized through binary systems of gender and sexuality that are developed in colonialism and enslavement? What would queer look like if we centered those forms of knowledge? That’s my real project with GLQ, to build an intellectual culture in the discipline of queer theory that really expands that conversation that includes voices from the global south in much more of a sustained, rigorous, and accountable way. I’m really hoping to expand those offerings. I’ve been working with several different people in the world on the possibility of co-publishing with different presses and journals in the global south that also engage in the debates that we engage in with queer theory on their own terms and how that could possibly shift how we talk about it here in the United States.

ddtsq_2_1One more under researched area which I think GLQ has actually been good at incorporating but I want to see more of is transgender studies because now with the launch of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, which I am currently serving on the editorial board of, I think we have a new venue. I think TSQ is very inspired by GLQ and I think TSQ is going to do really amazing things. I think GLQ can continue that conversation. Queer is more and more developed as a concept in dialogue with trans in ways that are not mutually exclusive or negating of anybody. I think that’s going to be exciting to see the development now that we have two really amazing venues to develop trans studies in.

Tell us about “Queer Inhumanisms” and forthcoming special issues of GLQ.

We have a couple of special issues in the pipeline and then I think we’re going to have to take a break from special issues for a little while and publish some of the submissions that we’ve been getting. We have a nice, healthy amount of submissions that are really waiting to see the world and I’m looking forward to seeing those in our journal.

ddglq_21_2_3The most recent special issue, volume 21, issues 3-4, just released, is called “Queer Inhumanisms” with Dana Luciano and Mel Chen serving as special issue editors. This is one of the issues that is doing a lot of interesting work with feminist science studies. Karen Barad has an article in it which I think is really going to blow people’s minds. It’s called “Transmaterialities.” In addition to that, even beyond Karen, we have wonderful people thinking about race, materiality, the constitution of the human, cruelty, racialization, intimacy, even to the point that “Queer Inhuamnisms” really brings together a lot of currents of thought around new materialism, as well as animal studies and feminist science studies more generally, to really get at the basic texture of our lives and of power in our lives. I think this is really great. I had a really wonderful experience with “On the Visceral,” and just seeing how ready we are to extend the conversation about power and sexuality and race and consumption into the fabric of our lives, of our existences. It’s going to be really exciting. There is a wonderful piece by Tavia Nyong’o on “Beast of the Southern Wild” and the concept of wildness. I have a great piece by Jayna Brown about Henrietta Lacks and the plasticity of life through the idea. The case of Henrietta Lacks is about the propagation of her cell line, the HeLa cell line. I’m not going to talk about every single one, but there is a wonderful dossier called “Theorizing Queer Inhumanisms” where we see the last piece of writing from José Muñoz and I think it’s going to be a really important dialogue for people thinking about race and queerness together. I loved every piece in this issue so I’ll stop there, but I think people will have a lot to read about.

The next special issue on the docket is “Area Impossible,” volume 22 and issue 2, which is being edited by Anjali Arondekar and Geeta Patel. These are two South Asian scholars who work on geopolitics and reframing area studies, challenging the concept of various studies and the kind of work it can do and occlude in terms of thinking through queer theory and questions of power and society. We haven’t gotten those essays in, they’re still in the developmental process, but I’m really looking forward to seeing where they end up.

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