African American Studies

Celebrating International Women’s Day

InternationalWomensDay-portraitToday is International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Since the early 1900s, this day has been a powerful platform that unifies tenacity and drives action for gender parity globally. IWD organizers are calling on supporters to help forge a better-working and more gender-inclusive world. In honor of this year’s International Women’s Day, we are pleased to share these recent books and journals from Duke University Press that support this year’s IWD theme: #BeBoldForChange.

Trans/Feminisms
a special issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly

tsq_new_prThis special double issue of TSQ goes beyond the simplistic dichotomy between an exclusionary transphobic feminism and an inclusive trans-affirming feminism. Exploring the ways in which trans issues are addressed within feminist and women’s organizations and social movements around the world, contributors ask how trans, genderqueer, and nonbinary issues are related to feminist movements today, what kind of work is currently undertaken in the name of trans/feminism, what new paradigms and visions are emerging, and what questions still need to be taken up. Central to this special issue is the recognition that trans/feminist politics cannot restrict itself to the domain of gender alone.

This issue features numerous shorter works that represent the diversity of trans/feminist practices and problematics and, in addition to original research articles, includes theory, reports, manifestos, opinion pieces, reviews, and creative/artistic productions, as well as republished key documents of trans/feminist history and international scholarship.

Living a Feminist Life

978-0-8223-6319-4In Living a Feminist Life Sara Ahmed shows how feminist theory is generated from everyday life and the ordinary experiences of being a feminist at home and at work. Building on legacies of feminist of color scholarship in particular, Ahmed offers a poetic and personal meditation on how feminists become estranged from worlds they critique—often by naming and calling attention to problems—and how feminists learn about worlds from their efforts to transform them. Ahmed also provides her most sustained commentary on the figure of the feminist killjoy introduced in her earlier work while showing how feminists create inventive solutions—such as forming support systems—to survive the shattering experiences of facing the walls of racism and sexism. The killjoy survival kit and killjoy manifesto, with which the book concludes, supply practical tools for how to live a feminist life, thereby strengthening the ties between the inventive creation of feminist theory and living a life that sustains it.

1970s Feminisms
a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly

ddsaq_114_4For more than a decade, feminist historians and historiographers have engaged in challenging the “third wave” portrait of 1970s feminism as essentialist, white, middle-class, uninterested in racism, and theoretically naive. This task has involved setting the record straight about women’s liberation by interrogating how that image took hold in the public imagination and among academic feminists. This issue invites feminist theorists to return to women’s liberation—to the texts, genres, and cultural productions to which the movement gave rise—for a more nuanced look at its conceptual and political consequences. The essays in this issue explore such topics as the ambivalent legacies of women’s liberation; the production of feminist subjectivity in mass culture and abortion documentaries; the political effects of archiving Chicana feminism; and conceptual and generic innovations in the work of Gayle Rubin, Christine Delphy, and Shulamith Firestone.

The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland

978-0-8223-6286-9In The Revolution Has Come Robyn C. Spencer traces the Black Panther Party’s organizational evolution in Oakland, California, where hundreds of young people came to political awareness and journeyed to adulthood as members. Challenging the belief that the Panthers were a projection of the leadership, Spencer draws on interviews with rank-and-file members, FBI files, and archival materials to examine the impact the organization’s internal politics and COINTELPRO’s political repression had on its evolution and dissolution. She shows how the Panthers’ members interpreted, implemented, and influenced party ideology and programs; initiated dialogues about gender politics; highlighted ambiguities in the Panthers’ armed stance; and criticized organizational priorities. Spencer also centers gender politics and the experiences of women and their contributions to the Panthers and the Black Power movement as a whole. Providing a panoramic view of the party’s organization over its sixteen-year history, The Revolution Has Come shows how the Black Panthers embodied Black Power through the party’s international activism, interracial alliances, commitment to address state violence, and desire to foster self-determination in Oakland’s black communities.

Reconsidering Gender, Violence, and the State
a special issue of Radical History Review

ddrhr_126In bringing together a geographically and temporally broad range of interdisciplinary historical scholarship, this issue of Radical History Review offers an expansive examination of gender, violence, and the state. Through analyses of New York penitentiaries, anarchists in early twentieth-century Japan, and militarism in the 1990s, contributors reconsider how historical conceptions of masculinity and femininity inform the persistence of and punishments for gendered violence. The contributors to a section on violence and activism challenge the efficacy of state solutions to gendered violence in a contemporary US context, highlighting alternatives posited by radical feminist and queer activists. In five case studies drawn from South Africa, India, Ireland, East Asia, and Nigeria, contributors analyze the archive’s role in shaping current attitudes toward gender, violence, and the state, as well as its lasting imprint on future quests for restitution or reconciliation. This issue also features a visual essay on the “false positives” killings in Colombia and an exploration of Zanale Muholi’s postapartheid activist photography.

Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology

978-0-8223-6295-1The editors and contributors to Color of Violence ask: What would it take to end violence against women of color? Presenting the fierce and vital writing of INCITE!’s organizers, lawyers, scholars, poets, and policy makers, Color of Violence radically repositions the antiviolence movement by putting women of color at its center. The contributors shift the focus from domestic violence and sexual assault and map innovative strategies of movement building and resistance used by women of color around the world. The volume’s thirty pieces—which include poems, short essays, position papers, letters, and personal reflections—cover violence against women of color in its myriad forms, manifestations, and settings, while identifying the links between gender, militarism, reproductive and economic violence, prisons and policing, colonialism, and war. At a time of heightened state surveillance and repression of people of color, Color of Violence is an essential intervention.

World Policy Interrupted
a special issue of World Policy Journal

wpj33_4_23_frontcover_fppThis issue is penned entirely by female foreign policy experts and journalists and “imagines a world where we wouldn’t need to interpret to be heard at the table. In reconstructing a media landscape where the majority of foreign policy experts quoted, bylined, and miked are not men, we quickly gain deeper insight into a complex world, one historically narrated by only one segment of society,” co-editors Elmira Bayrasli and Lauren Bohn write. Bayrasli and Bohn lead Foreign Policy Interrupted, a program that mentors, develops, and amplifies the voices of women in the international policy field. Foreign Policy Interrupted combats the industry’s gender disparity through a visibility platform and a cohesive fellowship program, including media training and meaningful mentoring at partnering media institutions. The program helps women break both internal and external barriers.

Stay up to date on women’s studies scholarship with these journals on gender studies, feminist theory, queer theory, and gay and lesbian studies:

Camera Obscura
differences
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies
Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies

 

The Black Panther Party and Black Anti-Fascism in the United States

The Revolution Has Come by Robyn C. SpencerToday’s guest post comes to us from Robyn C. Spencer, author of the new book The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland.

Fascism has been thrust into the mainstream political vocabulary of the United States after the election of President Donald Trump on a platform grounded in xenophobia, corporate dominance, and right wing white nationalism.  After the election, search engines and online dictionaries reported a dramatic increase in users seeking to define the term. News outlets from Al Jazeera (“The Foul Stench of Fascism in the Air”) to Forbes (“Yes, a Trump presidency would bring fascism to America”)  to the Washington Post  (“Donald Trump is actually a fascist”) published articles analyzing how Trump fits into fascist paradigms. Most recently, The Nation (“Anti-Fascists Will Fight Trump’s Fascism in the Streets”) chronicled the long history of anti-fascist organizing in Europe and the United States to inspire activists engaged in resistance at this political moment. Black history has been marginalized in this burgeoning contemporary discourse about fascism. Analyses of the US as fascist have a long history in the Black intellectual tradition. Black thinkers like Harry Hayward, Claudia Jones, George Jackson and Kuwasi Balagoon used fascism as an analytical framework to understand the rise of segregation in the South after Reconstruction; white populism at the turn of the 19th century; land and labor struggles in the Black Belt South, and the evolution of capitalism in the 1970s.

United Front Against Fascism by Georgi DimitroffThe Black Panther Party played a prominent role in the modern history of Black anti-fascism. Panther leaders were deeply influenced by “The United Front Against Fascism,” a report by Georgi Dimitroff delivered at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International in July-August 1935.

By 1969, the Panthers began to use fascism as a theoretical framework to critique US political economy. They defined fascism as “the power of finance capital” which “manifests itself not only as banks, trusts and monopolies but also as the human property of FINANCE CAPITAL – the avaricious businessman, the demagogic politician, and the racist pig cop.” The Black Panther newspaper began to feature excerpts from Dimitroff’s writings and articles with titles such as “Fascist Pigs must withdraw their troops from our communities or face the wrath of the armed people,” “Students Struggle Against Fascism,” and “Medicine and Fascism.”  The Panthers advertised local showings of films like Z about fascism in Greece and used their iconic artwork as a cultural tool to visually demonstrate anti-fascist resistance.

In July 1969 close to 5,000 activists from organizations like the Black Students Union, Communist Party USA, Los Siete de la Raza, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Students for a Democratic Society, Third World Liberation Front, Young Lords, Young Patriots, Youth Against War and Fascism, and the Progressive Labor Party flocked to Oakland, California’s Municipal auditorium in response to the Black Panther Party’s call for allies to gather and strategize against fascist conditions in the United States.  This United Front Against Fascism (UFAF) conference was an important moment in the history of the Black Freedom movement and the New Left. The Panthers hoped to create a “national force” with a “common revolutionary ideology and political program which answers the basic desires and needs of all people in fascist, capitalist, racist America.” At the opening session, Seale called for unity of action arguing that “we will not be free until Brown, Red, Yellow, Black, and all other peoples of color are unchained.”

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Norman Foerster 2016 Prize Winner Announced

ddal_88_3This year’s winner of the Norman Foerster Prize for the best essay published annually in American Literature has been selected. Congratulations to Meina Yates-Richard, winner of the 2016 Foerster Prize for her essay “‘WHAT IS YOUR MOTHER’S NAME?’: Maternal Disavowal and the Reverberating Aesthetic of Black Women’s Pain in Black Nationalist Literature,” featured in volume 88, issue 3. The selection committee, comprised of Michael Elliot, Nihad Farooq, Zita Cristina Nunes, Matthew Taylor, and Priscilla Wald, wrote of Yates-Richard’s winning essay:

In a field of distinguished work, Yates-Richard’s article stood out for us by tracing a compelling, provocative genealogy of black maternal sound and its relationship to black nationalism. By attending to the screams and songs of African-American women, Yates-Richard in this piece shows how black nationalism has both required and sacrificed the vocalizations of women. The result is an article that charts a textual tradition from Frederick Douglass’s Narrative to Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, and that raises important questions about the political work of such figurations. We are truly pleased to be able to recognize this path-breaking scholarship.

Additionally, there were two honorable mentions for this year’s contest. Congratulations to Mary Grace Albanese and James Dawes!

The selection committee chose Mary Grace Albanese’s essay “Uncle Tom across the Sea (and Back),” from volume 88, issue 4, for its innovative and thoroughly researched reconsideration of Uncle Tom’s Cabin within the context of Haitian politics and its comprehensive, multilingual readings of American literary history. In constructing a genealogy of the Haitain appropriations of Stowe’s novel, Albanese reminds us of the unpredictability of literary translation across national boundaries and the significance of hemispheric literary histories.

They chose James Dawes’s essay “The Novel of Human Rights,” from volume 88, issue 1, for its vital, challenging, and open-ended readings about the political urgency of the novel, and how the representation of atrocity exerts pressure on the form itself. This is a significant, provocative intervention in American literary studies—a stimulating call for us to rethink the relationship of literary genre to the most pressing political questions of our time.

Congratulations to Meina Yates-Richard and both honorable mentions! Read all the articles above, made freely available.

Black Portraiture[s]

nka38-39Contributors to the most recent issue of Nka, “Black Portraiture[s]: The Black Body in the West,” offer cutting-edge perspectives on the production and skill of black self-representation, desire, and the exchange of the gaze from the nineteenth century to the present day in fashion, film, art, and the archive. This collection of essays is critical and exciting because of its broad focus on the black portrait and the important aesthetic and ideological issues it continues to engage.

“By featuring some of the most extraordinary writers, historians, artists, and theorists working today we hope this special issue of Nka… enables readers to see that the image remains ever powerful in an age where black lives matter,” editors Cheryl Finley and Deborah Willis write in the introduction to the issue.

Topics in this issue include the impact of slavery on paintings at the Louvre, paintings of black artists and unfinished self-portraits, the uses of portraiture by artists Barkley L. Hendricks and Elizabeth Colomba, black women’s representations in pornography, James Barnor’s career, and photographing the ways in which black bodies exist in Paris and the world. Read the introduction, made freely available, and browse the table-of-contents for more.

ddcsa_36_2The most recent issue of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East features an interview with Nomusa Makhubu, a South African photographer.

From the introduction: “Collages of landscape, current occupants, and their ghosts, Nomusa Makhubu’s photographs capture the themes of this special section on apartheid with uncanny precision, and they articulate the possibility of a visual rhetoric to mark South Africa’s haunted present. In three separate photographic series, Makhubu deploys and destabilizes the supposed documentary capacity of photography and its ability to capture a static moment in order to insist on the interleaving of past and present and their inescapable conjunction.” Read the full interview.

978-0-8223-5074-3In Image Matters, Tina M. Campt traces the emergence of a black European subject by examining how specific black European communities used family photography to create forms of identification and community. At the heart of Campt’s study are two photographic archives, one composed primarily of snapshots of black German families taken between 1900 and 1945, and the other assembled from studio portraits of West Indian migrants to Birmingham, England, taken between 1948 and 1960. Campt’s next book, Listening to Images, will be published in May 2017.

978-0-8223-5085-9Pictures and Progress, edited by Maurice O. Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith, explores how, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, prominent African American intellectuals and activists understood photography’s power to shape perceptions about race and employed the new medium in their quest for social and political justice.

Smith is also the author of At the Edge of Sight, which engages the dynamics of seeing and not seeing, focusing attention as much on the invisible as the visible. Exploring the limits of photography and vision, she asks: What fails to register photographically, and what remains beyond the frame? What is hidden by design, and what is obscured by cultural blindness?

978-0-8223-5541-0_rSmith’s Photography on the Color Line provides a rich interpretation of the remarkable photographs W. E. B. Du Bois compiled for the American Negro Exhibit at the 1900 Paris Exposition, revealing the visual dimension of the color line that Du Bois famously called “the problem of the twentieth century.” Photography and the Optical Unconscious, edited by Smith and Sharon Sliwinski, will be published in May 2017.

Feeling Photography, edited by Elspeth H. Brown and Thy Phu, demonstrates the profound effects of feeling on our experiences and understanding of photography. The relationship between race and photography takes center stage in chapter 4, “Skin, Flesh, and the Affective Wrinkles of Civil Rights Photography” by Elizabeth Abel, and chapter 5, “Looking Pleasant, Feeling White: The Social Politics of the Photographic Smile” by Tanya Sheehan.

American Studies Association 2016

1We had such a wonderful time selling books and journals at the American Studies Association last week in Denver, Colorado.

On Friday we had a reception celebrating Small Axe‘s fiftieth issue and twentieth anniversary. The wine and cheese were great, but the Small Axe swag was an even bigger hit!

The reception was fun way to celebrate with editor David Scott, managing editor Vanessa Pérez-Rosario, editorial board members, and readers of the journal. Keep the celebration going by reading Small Axe #50.

Friday night also included a reception for GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. It was great to see so many scholars and contributors to the journal, as well as co-editors Beth Freeman and Marcia Ochoa, celebrating the journal.

Several of our authors won awards for their books. Simone Browne won the 2016 Lora Romero Prize for her book, Dark Matters, and Lisa Lowe’s Intimacies of Four Continents was a finalist for the 2016 John Hope Franklin Prize, both from ASA.

It was wonderful to see so many authors and editors stop by our booth. We loved seeing them with their books, and especially enjoyed E. Patrick Johnson and Kai Green’s reenactment of the No Tea, No Shade cover!

Not able to make it out this year? Are there a few more books or journal issues you wish you would have grabbed? Don’t worry—you can use the coupon code ASA16 on our website through the end of the year to stock up on our great American studies titles for 30% off.

Fall Poetry

Our fall book list includes two excellent books of poetry. In Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, poet Alexis Pauline Gumbs presents a commanding collection of scenes depicting fugitive Black women and girls seeking freedom from gendered violence and racism. Only the Road / Solo el Camino, edited and translated by Margaret Randall, is the most complete bilingual anthology of Cuban poetry available to an English readership, comprising the work of more than fifty poets writing across the last eight decades.

We’re happy to share poems here from each of these two books, both available now.

978-0-8223-6272-2An excerpt from “How She Spelled It” in Spill by Alexis Pauline Gumbs:

i am wrong. she told herself. born wrong. or more like retrieved. walk wrong, talk wrong, even now. she grieved. and who in the hell set things up like this? then she wrote it in the salt spilled on the table. wrong. she wrote it in the flour on the floor. wrong. she wrote it in chicken blood on the stump. and in grease on the counter. and she circle dialed it rotary home to her mother. and she postcard wrote it across to her sister. and she wrote it on her own wrists with toothpaste that night and smeared it over her teeth. and she bit herself wondering about sinews, worrying about the palimpsest of veins. but in the end she was too vain because when she spelled wrong in the steam in the mirror it was not her name.

“A Love Poem according to Demographic Data” (Un poema de amor, según datos demográficos) by Norberto Codina, published in Only the Road / Solo el Camino:

978-0-8223-6229-6Next Sunday we will be four billion.
In the transparent nest of your hands
I deposit the secret of the species
where you come with four billion,
alone with four billion,
mine with four billion.
Like my mother, you bring
rain and the death of the universe
because all the others also wait with me,
those who want to keep on multiplying,
those who share this secret of tenderness
in the transparent nest of your hands.

In 1850 we weren’t so many
and there was hunger, my love,
inherited hunger.
In 1930 we were merely half
of what we are today,
and there was hunger:
the postwar soup ran out
my mother studied to be a nurse,
and in Berlin, in Rome, the world sickened.
Thirty years later,
we were two satiated children
who knew nothing of the rice trains
assaulted by a shadow fear of hunger.

The population of the globe
will ascend this Sunday to four billion inhabitants.
Isn’t the earth’s globe the globe of your belly
rosy and once again a star,
your belly like a house,
like a bell where I desperately listen each day
to hunger’s ring
in the births of thousands of people?
It is believed that in the year two thousand
we will be more than at any other time,
so many
that fortunately there will be less patience.

And one day hunger, my love, will be a forgotten page
and not like today a poem of lovers
and billions,
and not like today a poem of two and a poem of
hope,
but the sure march
of future inhabitants,
of the hundreds of thousands of lovers
who will study, like a bit of quaint history:
“In 1976,
when we were just four
billion,
someone wrote a love poem using the word hunger.”

 

Save 30% when purchasing Spill or Only the Road / Solo el Camino through our website. Use coupon code SAVE30 at checkout.

New Books In November

Our Fall season continues to bring in a bounty of smart, interesting, vital books.  Check out these new titles dropping in November:

978-0-8223-6286-9In the year of the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther founding, Robyn C. Spencer gives us The Revolution Has Come. In these pages Spencer traces the Black Panther Party’s organizational evolution in Oakland, California, examining how its internal politics along with external forces such as COINTELPRO shaped the Party’s efforts at fostering self-determination in Oakland’s black communities.

Now Peru is Mine is the account of the life of Manuel Llamojha Mitma, one of Peru’s most creative and inspiring indigenous political activists. His compelling life story covers nearly eight decades, providing a window into many key developments in Peru’s tumultuous twentieth-century history and political mobilization in Cold War Latin America.

978-0-8223-6235-7In Eating the Ocean, Elspeth Probyn moves away from a simplified food politics that is largely land-based and looks at food politics from an ocean-centric perspective by tracing the global movement of several marine species to explore the complex and entangled relationship between humans and fish.

Olufemi Vaughan, in Religion and the Making of Nigeria, examines how Christian, Muslim, and indigenous religious structures along with the legacies of British colonial rule have provided the essential social and ideological frameworks for the construction of contemporary Nigeria.

978-0-8223-6261-6Queer Cinema in the World offers a new theory of queer world cinema. Karl Schoonover and Rosalind Galt explore how queer cinema intersects with shifting ideals of global politics and cinema aesthetics to demonstrate its potential to disturb dominant modes of world-making and to forge spaces of queer belonging.

In the vein of hemispheric American studies, the contributors to New Countries examine how eight newly independent nations in the Western Hemisphere between 1750 and 1870 played fundamental roles in the global transformation from commercial to industrial capitalism.

We Dream Together is a thorough social and political history in which Anne Eller breaks with dominant narratives of the history of the Dominican Republic and its relationship with Haiti by tracing the complicated history of its independence between 1822 and 1865, thus showing how the Dominican Republic’s political roots are deeply entwined with Haiti’s.

978-0-8223-6244-9In Thinking Literature Across ContinentsRanjan Ghosh and J. Hillis Miller—two thinkers from different continents, cultures, training, and critical perspectives—debate and reflect upon what literature is, can be, and do in variety of contexts ranging from Victorian literature and Chinese literary criticism to Sanskrit Poetics and Continental philosophy.

Want to make sure you don’t miss a new book? Sign up for Subject Matters, our  e-mail newsletter.

November Events

November is a great time to head out to local bookstores and other venues and meet our authors.

spillReaders in Durham, Montreal, and Atlanta can all catch poet Alexis Pauline Gumbs this month.
November 1: Alexis Gumbs will read from her new book Spill at The Regulator.
7:00pm, 720 Ninth Street, Durham, NC 27705

November 9:  The Concordia Centre will host a workshop Alexis Gumbs and Rachel Zellars around her book Spill.
6:00pm,  H-763, Hall Building,  1455 de Maisonneuve West, Annex V-01, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1M8

November 18: Spill author Alexis Gumbs will be at Charis Books to discuss her book.
7:30pm, 1189 Euclid Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

978-0-8223-5931-9November 5: Shane Greene will participate in a panel discussion at Cornell University for their Musicology Colloquium.
3:00pm, Klarman Hall Auditorium KG70, 232 East Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850

November 7: Shapeshifters author Aimee Cox will be at the University of Miami to discuss “Black Girlhood.”
12:00pm, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33143

November 10: Christina Sharpe speaks at Northwestern University on her book In the Wake.
12:00pm, Northwestern University, TGS Commons, 2122 Sheridan Road, 1st Floor, Evanston, IL 60208
Followed by a conversation with Alex Weheliye.
5:30pm, Harris Hall 108, Evanston, IL 60208

Cahan cover image, 5897-8November 12: Susan Cahan will be at Laumeier Sculpture Park to discuss and sign copies for her book Mounting Frustration.
1:00pm, 12580 Rott Road, Adam Aronson Fine Arts Center, St. Louis, Missouri 63127

November 14: Susan Cahan in conversation with Lowery Stokes Sims at the Museum of Modern Art on her book Mounting Frustration.
7:00pm, Education and Research Center, Theater 3, 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

November 17: Hettie Jones will discuss her new book, Love, H, at the Poets House. This is a ticketed event.
7:00pm, Kray Hall, 10 River Terrace, New York, NY 10282

November is also a huge month for conferences. Be sure to come by our booths at the National Women’s Studies Association, Society for Ethnomusicology, American Studies Association, American Anthropological Association, American Academy of Religion, American Society for Theater Research, American Society for Ethnohistory, Middle East Studies Association, and African Studies Association. Save 30% on all our titles in the booths and meet our staff members.

New Books in September

It’s finally September, and we’re just as excited for the start of the school year as you are. Add these great titles, coming out this month, to your fall reading list:

Cultural Studies 1983With the publication of Cultural Studies 1983 we launch our new series Stuart Hall: Selected Writings. A touchstone event in the history of Cultural Studies, the book is a testament to Stuart Hall’s unparalleled contributions. Unavailable until now, these eight foundational lectures present Hall’s original engagements with the theoretical positions that contributed to the formation of Cultural Studies.

No Tea, No Shade, edited by E. Patrick Johnson, follows up the groundbreaking Black Queer Studies by bringing together nineteen essays on black gender and sexuality. Topics include “raw” sex, pornography, the carceral state, gentrification, gender nonconformity, social media, the relationship between black feminist studies and black trans studies, the black queer experience throughout the black diaspora, and queer music, film, dance, and theater.

Life and Death on the New York Dance FloorAs the 1970s gave way to the ’80s, New York’s party scene entered a ferociously inventive period characterized by its creativity, intensity, and hybridity. Tim Lawrence chronicles this tumultuous time in Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, charting the sonic and social eruptions that took place in the city’s subterranean party venues as well as the way they cultivated breakthrough movements in art, performance, video, and film.

Focusing on artwork by Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, and Piero Manzoni, Jaleh Mansoor demonstrates in Marshall Plan Modernism how abstract painting, especially the monochrome, broke with fascist-associated futurism and functioned as an index of social transition in postwar Italy.

GeontologiesIn Geontologies, Elizabeth A. Povinelli continues her project of mapping the current conditions of late liberalism by offering a bold retheorization of power. Finding Foucauldian biopolitics unable to adequately reveal contemporary mechanisms of power and governance, Povinelli describes a mode of power she calls geontopower.

As the 2011 uprisings in North Africa reverberated across the Middle East, a diverse cross section of women and girls publicly disputed gender and sexual norms. In a series of case studies ranging from Tunisia’s 14 January Revolution to the Taksim Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, the contributors to Freedom without Permission, edited by Frances S. Hasso and Zakia Salime, reveal the centrality of the intersections between body, gender, sexuality, and space to these groundbreaking events.

Love, HLove, H: The Letters of Helene Dorn and Hettie Jones is a remarkable selection from a forty-year correspondence between two artists who survived their time as wives in the Beat bohemia of the 1960s and went on to successful artistic careers of their own. Revealing the intimacy of lifelong friends, these letters tell two stories from the shared point of view of women who refused to go along with society’s expectations.

One of the classics of twentieth-century Marxism, Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks contains a rich and nuanced theorization of class that provides insights that extend far beyond economic inequality. In Gramsci’s Common Sense, Kate Crehan provides an overview of Gramsci’s notions of subalternity, intellectuals, and common sense, putting them in relation to the work of thinkers such as Bourdieu, Arendt, Spivak, and Said.

Only the RoadFeaturing the work of more than fifty poets writing across the last eight decades, Only the Road / Solo el Camino is the most complete bilingual anthology of Cuban poetry available to an English readership. The collection, edited by Margaret Randall, is distinguished by its stylistic breadth and the diversity of its contributors, who come from throughout Cuba and its diaspora and include luminaries, lesser-known voices, and several Afro-Cuban and LGBTQ poets.

Reprinted in paperback, Songs of the Unsung is the autobiography of Los Angeles jazz musician and activist Horace Tapscott (1934–1999). It is the story of Los Angeles’s cultural and political evolution over the last half of the twentieth century, of the origins of many of the most important avant-garde musicians still on the scene today, and of a rich and varied body of music.

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Jennifer Doyle on Queer Theory and Current Events

In this guest post written on behalf of Social Text, Jennifer Doyle addresses current events, including the recent mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando targeting queer people of color and the Black Lives Matter movement, through the lens of two essays by Jasbir Puar. For additional scholarship, read the essays, “Queer Times, Queer Assemblages” and “Monster, Terrorist, Fag: The War on Terrorism and the Production of Docile Patriots,” written with Amit S. Rai, made freely available.

ddst_72_20_3“How are gender and sexuality central to the current ‘war on terrorism’?” This question opens Jasbir Puar and Amit S. Rai’s 2002 essay “Monster, Terrorist, Fag: The War on Terrorism and the Production of Docile Patriots” and has become more pressing over time. The alarming news from Orlando caught numbers of us off-guard — not (sadly) because mass shootings are unthinkable. We found ourselves off-balance but because, with Orlando’s news cycle, queer people of color, mostly Latino and mostly Puerto Rican, were quickly deployed, as victims, in the service of the discourse of national security. Yes, mainstream and conservative news media choked on the word “gay,” but only for a moment. The lynch-logics of the discourse on terrorism are never “only” about race; it has always been cut with sexual fantasy — a sexed and raced fantasy about those who must be protected, and those against whom they should be protected. The way these discourses are entangled is the subject of much of Jasbir Puar’s work. She writes, “queerness is proffered as a sexually exceptional form of American national sexuality through a rhetoric of sexual modernization.” This positioning of the modern, national sexual subject is, in turn, deployed to “castigate the other as homophobic and perverse, and construct the imperialist center as ‘tolerant’ but sexually, racially, and gendered normal.” These combinatory dynamics have acquired a dizzying velocity. A man with a semi-assault weapon is a terrorist not because he belongs to an organized political movement, but because he says he is. He says he is because he might as well be. He declares himself at war with the world. Media cycles through speculation about his sexuality — as if the question of his interest in men and the question of his feelings about that offers us something more useful than the word “murder.” What does it mean that a man who claimed the word terrorist for himself murdered so many gay and brown men in a popular gay bar? Does that self-naming make it an act of war? What is a war these days? How to mourn our losses when that grief is so easily enlisted by the violent systems that have terrified us for so long? Is a man who shoots at police also a terrorist? Are the police who shoot black men in their cars, face down on the ground, running away — are they terrorists? What is a terrorist these days?

We lean into a familiar outrage regarding the marketing of semi-automatic weapons, perhaps because this is easier than speaking the reason the public must not be militarized — the public has this murderous, terrifying capacity. Is this not what a militarized police force expresses? An uneasy truth, or is this the chiasmus of paranoid thinking? Bullets ricochet around the vulnerable.

ddST_84-85_color_nobarcodeWho knows this violent public, this violent state, this particular kind of vulnerability better than the queer people of color who knew each other at Pulse? Orlando was not the first mass murder at a gay bar: in New Orleans, numbers were burned alive in a deliberate arson. Do the numbers of people killed in homo and trans-phobic bashings add up? What does it mean when the intimate, often privatized forms of terror that have haunted queer publics intersect with legitimized, state-sanctioned discourses of terrorism, and with, furthermore, nationalism?

These questions about the relationship between LGBT life and state sanctioned violence are woven into the foundations of queer studies — see, for example, recent struggles over the concept of the “normative”: where do we go when LGBT experiences and struggles are normatized and mainstreamed? Orlando looms again: one’s history of suffering and one’s vulnerability to threat is basic qualifier for membership to a national public (“us,” as opposed to than “them”). We cannot desire this.

Power flows through our world making some the object of state sanctioned violence, making a spectacle, furthermore, of that violence. Unthinkable forms of mass violence are staged elsewhere, within the context of war, which is itself an awfully flexible category. In a few cases, we encounter the madness of a person at war with the world. Can we even see the difference between the psychosis of that one person and the psychosis of the world against which he wages his war? A range of ideological systems sanction murderous rage against trans people, against gay people, against Latinos, women, elected officials, abortionists, black people — black children. The list goes on. The sanctioning of these forms of violence begins with a schizo-paranoid fantasy of threat. Each narrative of this “threat” has its own awful history, its own logics — and they are never far from “normal” terrors.

Puar’s work is essential reading for anyone trying to understand the relationship between the wars conducted by the state elsewhere, the wars conducted by the state against its own people, and the struggles — sometimes violent — we wage amongst and against ourselves (e.g. her essay on the “It Gets Better” social media response to Tyler Clementi’s suicide.) Puar’s more recent writing on the sexual politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a similar force to her essays on the discursive combines she has theorized as “terrorist assemblages.” Zionists activists have singled out that work with the aim of stigmatizing Puar— to mark her as a threat, as Steven Salaita and other scholars have been marked as threats. The intention of that effort is clear: to inhibit their work by making the consequences of publishing and speaking on the subject unbearable. The intention is to make a spectacle of the scholar’s professional exile. Let us recall anti-homophobic and anti-abortion campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s which marked a range of artists, writers, and activists as “too controversial” to touch. Which made certain areas of inquiry into “no go zones.” The harassment of Puar recasts necessary work as dangerous work. We are meant to back away from each other’s most ferocious critical capacities. As we wrestle with a xenophobic/racist national security discourse attempting to hail us as queer subjects — as vulnerable through our commitment to something like sexual freedom — let us remember, here, that the discourse of sexual freedom is always already racialized, shaped within an imperial system and that this sexed idea of being free is, very much, articulated in relation to quite specific states of un-freedom. As we read Puar’s work, we, as a community of scholars, need to consider our collective responsibility to those working on the front lines of thought, and signal our solidarity and our commitment to queer theory as a mode of critical resistance.

Additional reading:

Jasbir Puar on “Ecologies of Sex, Sensation and Slow Death

Before Orlando Shooting, an Anti-Gay Massacre in New Orleans Was Largely Forgotten” in the New York Times

Jasbir Puar on “Speaking of Palestine: Solidarity and Its Censors