This month we approach Pride with mixed feelings—it is difficult to celebrate amid so much injustice, but the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that protects LGBTQ workers from job discrimination is heartening as a step forward.
We’d like to take this moment to lift up our latest scholarship in queer and trans studies.
Our Revisiting Queer Studies Syllabus highlights articles, books, and journal issues on topics such as queerness in poor and working-class populations, decolonizing queerness, antinormativity, queer migration, and contemporary coming-out stories. Our Trans Rights Syllabus addresses trans rights and politics globally, exploring coalitional models of social justice, black trans feminisms, surgery, disability, surveillance, and more. Both syllabi offer free journal content for a limited time, and books can be purchased from your local bookseller or online at dukeupress.edu.
Poor Queer Studies by Matt Brim shifts queer studies away from sites of elite education toward poor and working-class students and locations, showing how the field is driven by those flagship institutions that perpetuate class and race inequity in higher education. In a recent op-ed, Brim linked his research to cuts in higher education due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many people have seen parallels between today’s pandemic and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. In AIDS and the Distribution of Crises, contributors outline the myriad ways that the AIDS pandemic exists within a network of varied historical, overlapping, and ongoing crises borne of global capitalism and colonial, racialized, and gendered violence.
The Lonely Letters is an epistolary blackqueer critique of the normative world in which Ashon T. Crawley meditates on the interrelation of blackqueer life, sounds of the black church, theology, mysticism, and the potential for platonic and erotic connection in a world that conspires against blackqueer life. These letters may especially speak to people isolating alone in the pandemic. In an interview with New City Arts, Crawley talked a bit about being alone at home and in nature during this time.
Some people may be spending more time playing video games while socially isolating. To learn about some queer game makers and their projects, check out The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers Are Reimagining the Medium of Video Gamesby Bonnie Ruberg. The book presents twenty interviews with twenty-two queer video game developers whose radical, experimental, vibrant, and deeply queer work is driving a momentous shift in the medium of video games.
In Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women, E. Patrick Johnson combines magical realism, poetry, and performative writing to bear witness to the real-life stories of black southern queer women in ways that reveal the complexity of identity and the challenges these women face.
Pride is celebrated worldwide, including in Korea. Check out Queer Korea, a collection edited by Todd A. Henry. The contributors offer interdisciplinary analyses of non-normative sexuality and gender nonconformity in Korea, extending individualized notions of queer neoliberalism beyond those set in Western queer theory.
Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen an outpouring of response from grieving communities against structural oppression and police brutality. As we balance political action and education about history and critical race theory, we encourage you to read and share the following resources with your community.
In recognition of the importance of art and visual culture in the history of struggle against racism, the following issues of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art are free online through the end of September:
The issue, edited by Amy Chazkel, Monica Kim, and A. Naomi Paik, helps us imagine a world without police by examining historical cases in which people resolved social problems and maintained social peace through means other than relying on formal institutions of law enforcement. Contributors consider what new relationships and ways of dealing with violence and harm might emerge when we focus our gaze on those specific historical moments when people chose to carve out communal relations that operated beyond the policing function of the state.
Our syllabi series highlights articles, books, and journal issues that encourage thoughtful discussion of today’s most pressing issues. The Political Protests and Movements of Resistance Syllabus, new today, lists titles that tackle topics of political protest, resistance, and activism. Subjects include transnational social movements, spatial reclamation, student occupation, protest literature, and more.
All journal articles and issues in this syllabus are freely available online until August 31, 2020. The books in this syllabus can be purchased from your local independent bookseller, from online booksellers, and at dukeupress.edu.
We know that many of you look forward to stocking up on new books at special discounts at our conferences, so we are pleased to extend a 30% discount on all in-stock books and journal issues. Use coupon code BERKS20 to save 30% when ordering online. Journal subscriptions and society memberships don’t qualify for the 30% discount.
Check out some of the exciting titles we would have featured in our booth at the Berks.
In I Never Left Home, poet and revolutionary Margaret Randall tells the moving, captivating, and astonishing story of her life, from her childhood in New York to joining the Sandanista movement in Nicaragua, from escaping political repression in Mexico to raising a family and teaching college. Watch a video of Margaret Randall discussing her memoir here.
In Second World, Second Sex, Kristen Ghodsee recuperates the lost history of feminist activism from the so-called Second World, showing how women from state socialist Bulgaria and socialist-leaning Zambia created networks and alliances that challenged American women’s leadership of the global women’s movement. Listen to an interview with Kristen Ghodsee here.
Jennifer C. Nash reframes black feminism’s engagement with intersectionality in Black Feminism Reimagined, contending that black feminists should let go of their possession and policing of the concept in order to better unleash black feminist theory’s visionary and world-making possibilities. Read an interview with Jennifer Nash here.
Lynn M. Thomas constructs a transnational history of skin lighteners in South Africa and beyond in Beneath the Surface, theorizing skin and skin color as a site for antiracist struggle and lighteners as a technology of visibility that both challenges and entrenches racial and gender hierarchies. Watch an interview with Lynn Thomas on South African TV here.
From The Guiding Light to Passions, Elana Levine traces the history of daytime television soap operas as an innovative and highly gendered mass cultural form in Her Stories. Read an interview with Elana Levine in Jezebelhere.
In Mafalda, Isabella Cosse examines the history, political commentary, and influence of the world-famous comic character Mafalda from her Argentine origins in 1964 to her global reach in the 1990s. Recently, the Argentinan goverment has been using Mafalda to educate citizens about wearing face masks during the pandemic. Read Cosse’s blog post on the campaign here.
The contributors to Spirit on the Move examine Pentecostalism’s appeal to black women worldwide and the ways it provides them with a source of community, access to power, and way to challenge social inequalities. This volume is edited by Judith Casselberry and Elizabeth A. Pritchard.
Ana María Reyes examines how the polarizing art of Beatriz González disrupted Cold War aesthetic discourses and the politics of class and modernization in 1960s Colombia in The Politics of Taste.
In Vexy Thing, Imani Perry recenters patriarchy to contemporary discussions of feminism through a social and literary analysis of cultural artifacts—ranging from nineteenth-century slavery court cases and historical vignettes to literature and contemporary art—from the Enlightenment to the present. Read an interview with Imani Perry here.
If you were hoping to connect with one of our editors about your book project at the Berks, please reach out to them by email. See our editors’ specialties and contact information here and our submissions guidelines here. We are now accepting submissions online!
Our journal issues in women’s and gender studies are also included in our 30%-off sale.
Indigenous activism in the Americas has long focused on the symbolic reclamation of land. Drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives, contributors to this issue explore narratives of territory and origin that provide a foundation for this political practice. They study Indigenous-language stories from displaced communities, analyzing the meaning and power of these narratives in the context of diaspora and the struggle for land.
Essays address topics including territorial struggle and environmentalism, Indigenous resistance to neoliberal policies of land dispossession, and alliances between academic and Indigenous knowledges and activisms.
Margaret Randall is a poet, essayist, oral historian, translator, memoirist, and photographer who has published over 150 books of poetry and prose. In her newest book, I Never Left Home, she details the extraordinary stories from her life, recounting moments ranging from her time living among New York’s abstract expressionists in the mid-1950s as a young woman to working in the Nicaraguan Ministry of Culture to instill revolutionary values in the media during the Sandinista movement.
You explain in Chapter 1 that you started this project by writing about your time in New York in the late 1950s and subsequently moved forward and backwards in time throughout your writing process. How was the experience of placing these chapters in chronological order for the book? Did conceiving of your memories in this linear fashion bring you to any new insights about your life?
I guess I should say that I have always believed more in non-linear than in linear time. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t begin this memoir by writing about my earliest years but rather about my years in New York City, an experience I had never written about before. When it came time to organize the book I did go with a chronological timeline, though, maybe because I thought it would allow readers to follow my life and times as they have unfolded. This also seemed like a good choice because earlier experiences inevitably influenced later ones, and I wanted my readers to understand that.
A number of big geographic and cultural moves punctuate your life—first as a child to New Mexico, and later as an adult to Spain, New York, Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua, and then back to New Mexico. Throughout these moves, you navigated many “insider/outsider moments” —moments in which you felt at home, and those in which you grappled with your racial identity, class status, and foreignness. What have you learned about the importance of embracing one’s position as an outsider? What kinds of connections break down this distinction and allow one to feel at home?
Embracing one’s experience as an outsider is necessary. One always wants to belong; it is part of the human condition. But if one chooses to live in places foreign to one’s culture or in ways that are foreign to one’s class, racial or gender identities, one’s “otherness” is right out there for all to see. There is no denying or getting around it. So, I think we learn to make peace with that and live the experience as it is. As a young US American in Latin America, living and working and raising my children in countries frequently attacked or exploited by the United States, it was inevitable that I should carry a sense of guilt. Inevitable but not healthy. I had to learn to struggle with that and not allow it to overpower or destroy me. I believe one can straddle this outsider condition best by living as much as possible as the people where you are living. In Mexico this meant learning about dozens of indigenous cultures, appreciating native art and music, participating in national fiestas. In Cuba it meant refusing the foreigner’s ration book and living as much as possible like a Cuban. In Nicaragua it meant participating in national defense as the Contra war heated up. Despite such efforts, though, if one is from somewhere else one is an outsider. So then it becomes important to figure out how to make one’s condition transparent and use it to benefit others.
You mention that, while living in Seville, you “immediately agreed” to assist smuggling contraceptives from Morocco to Spain, as would be your response to other future invitations to risk. At what other moments in your life do you recall agreeing to risk? How necessary is risk in one’s pursuit of justice?
I have taken risks as long as I can remember. Smuggling contraceptives into Spain in the 1950s was just one example. In Mexico I assisted revolutionary organizations and took part in the 1968 Mexican Student Movement. In Cuba I insisted on asking difficult questions of a revolution not accustomed to being questioned by outsiders. And when I returned to the United States and was ordered deported because of opinions expressed in some of my books, I didn’t leave but decided to fight for my right to stay. All these moments, and others, involved risk. I can’t really explain why it has been so natural for me to take risks. Perhaps it is written into a person’s DNA. Perhaps I was simply following the example of mentors who were, themselves, notable risk-takers.
While publishing the bilingual journal El Corno with Sergio Mondragón during the 1960s, you recall believing that “poetry could change the world.” How did you conceive of the relationship between artistic expression and revolution then? What connection do you see between them today, both in the US and abroad?
I have always believed that poetry is a necessary ingredient to living fully. Revolution, or working for justice, is really about living fully. We can only live fully if we struggle for equality and fairness in all areas. Art is the highest manifestation of living to the fullest, engaging all the senses, experiencing the heights and depths of the human experience. When I was younger and claimed that poetry could change the world, I think I meant that more explicitly than when I say the same thing today. Today I understand this more complexly. Poetry—and artistic expression generally—allows us to exercise our imaginations, think outside the box, believe in the “impossible”. It is in this sense that I believe it can change the world.
It was not until your return to the US that you were able to reflect on your sexual identity and come out as a lesbian to yourself and others. What was it about returning “home” that allowed for this personal exploration?
I think what kept me from understanding my sexual identity while I was living in Latin America, especially when I was in Cuba and Nicaragua, was that I was involved in situations of social change that required full focus on the collective. It would have been healthier if we had found ways to attend to our personal issues as well, but we didn’t know how. That was one of the problems with the movements with which I was involved. We rarely prioritized our own needs. The collective was what was important. So, when I came back to the US, I was immersed in the women’s movement. It was the 1980s, and women were addressing issues of personal identity, domestic violence, recovery, and so forth. Arriving in the midst of this community of women, many of whom were lesbians, somehow allowed me to begin to question my own sexual identity. It was in this context, as well, that I remembered the incest of which I had been a victim as a very young child. I do believe that social change movements must find ways to combine the personal with the public, develop ways to struggle that take into account people’s individual differences and needs.
You describe your witnessing of the Cuban and Sandinista Revolutions as a “privilege,” as you experienced times in which quests for justice, passion, and creativity seemed to be bursting at the seams of daily life. What do you hope younger generations looking for revolutionary change might learn from these memories and experiences?
I do believe that I was privileged to have lived in the places where I lived and at the times when I lived in them. And that sense of privilege, in my mind, implies the willingness to share those experiences. Every generation is faced with new situations that demand new strategies and tactics. But we can learn a lot from our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, their struggles and solutions. Just as I believe that I can learn a lot from those who are coming up now. In terms of my memoir, I guess I just hope that it is a good read, a story or series of stories that express one woman’s journey through the second part of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century.
Watch Margaret discuss her book and read a passage:
While contemporary Chinese art has arrived as a critical subject in art history and found market success, current art criticism has yet to fully engage with art made by Chinese women, especially from the perspective of gender politics. In this special issue, contributors consider how the work of contemporary women artists has generated new approaches to and perspectives on the Chinese art canon.
The issue begins by laying a historical framework for the potentials and problems regarding the interpretation of Chinese women’s art, tracing its evolution throughout a century of Chinese history. Next, the issue addresses the spatial notion of boundary crossing, addressing how travel across national and theoretical boundaries affects the perception of artworks, and explores the misgivings of Chinese women artists about participating in a global exhibition system in which their artwork stands for “China” and “Women.” The issue concludes by looking at the idea of (en)gendering as a revision of women’s art prompting artists and the viewers of women’s artworks to challenge the conventional gaze that has dominated our ways of seeing.
Spring is just around the corner—so it’s time to stock up on books for a whole new season of reading. Check out all of these titles arriving in March!
In I Never Left Home, poet and revolutionary Margaret Randall tells the moving, captivating, and astonishing story of her life, from her childhood in New York to joining the Sandanista movement in Nicaragua, from escaping political repression in Mexico to raising a family and teaching college.
Demanding Imagesis Karen Strassler’s ethnography of Indonesia’s post-authoritarian public sphere, exploring the role of public images as they gave visual form to the ideals, aspirations, and anxieties of democracy.
Focusing on a wide range of media technologies and practices in Beijing, Underglobalization by Joshua Neves examines the cultural politics of the “fake” and how frictions between legality and legitimacy propel dominant models of economic development and political life in contemporary China.
A writing manual as well as a manifesto, Every Day I Write the Book combines novelist and essayist Amitava Kumar’s practical writing advice with interviews with prominent writers, offering guidance and inspiration for academic writers at all levels.
In Negative Exposures, Margaret Hillenbrand explores how artistic appropriations of historical images effectively articulate the openly unsayable and counter the public secrecy that erases traumatic episodes from China’s past.
The contributors to Visualizing Fascism, edited by Julia Adeney Thomas and Geoff Eley, examine the imagery and visual rhetoric of interwar fascism in East Asia, southern Africa, and Europe to explore how fascism was visualized as a global and aesthetic phenomenon.
In his new book-length prose poem, The Voice in the Headphones, musician David Grubbs draws on decades of recording experience, taking readers into the recording studio to tell the story of an unnamed musician who struggles to complete a film soundtrack in a day-long marathon recording session.
Rahul Mukherjee explores how the media coverage of and debates about nuclear power plants and cellular phone antennas in India frames and sustains environmental activism in Radiant Infrastructures.
Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky theorizes the process genre—a filmic genre characterized by its representation of chronologically ordered steps in which some form of labor results in a finished product—in The Process Genre.
In The Queer Games Avant-Garde, Bonnie Ruberg presents twenty interviews with twenty-two queer video developers whose radical, experimental, vibrant, and deeply queer work is driving a momentous shift in the medium of video games.
Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas traces how parenting practices among urban elites in Brazil and Puerto Rico preserve and reproduce white privilege and economic inequality in Parenting Empires.
In Rock | Water | Life, Lesley Green examines the interwoven realities of inequality, racism, colonialism, and environmental destruction in South Africa, calling for environmental research and governance to transition to an ecopolitical approach that could address South Africa’s history of racial oppression and environmental exploitation.
Matt Brim shifts queer studies away from sites of elite education toward poor and working-class students and locations in Poor Queer Studies, showing how the field is driven by those flagship institutions that perpetuate class and race inequity in higher education.
In Paris in the Dark, Eric Smoodin takes readers on a journey through the streets, cinemas, and theaters of Paris to sketch a comprehensive picture of French film culture during the 1930s and 1940s.
Contributors to this special issue propose placing economic planning firmly back on the agenda of Left politics. Today, capital and the capitalist state are fully planned, yet economic planning remains a key site of political struggle, and it exists in diverse places and forms—in algorithms, in sites of dispute, in communes, in music, and coming from above or below.
The authors explore new ways of seeing and thinking about economic planning, arguing that the question is no longer whether or not to plan but rather what kind of economic planning is taking place, what purpose it is serving, and who is included in making and executing plans.
Check out authors Matteo Mandarini and Alberto Toscano’s article, “Planning for Conflict,”freely available for three months.
The issue’s Against the Day section, “Mediterranea: Sea Rescue as Political Action,” brings together researchers and activists to discuss migrant projects of freedom. All articles in this section are freely available for six months.