Gay and Lesbian Studies

New Books in May

As we approach the end of the semester, kick off your summer reading with some of our great new titles! Here’s what we have coming out in May.

Shannen Dee Williams provides a comprehensive history of Black Catholic nuns in the United States in Subversive Habits, tracing how Black sisters’ struggles were central to the long African American freedom movement.

The contributors to Re-Understanding Media, edited by Sarah Sharma and Rianka Singh, advance a feminist version of Marshall McLuhan’s key text, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, repurposing his insight that “the medium is the message” for feminist ends.

In Queer Companions, Omar Kasmani theorizes the construction of queer social relations at Pakistan’s most important Sufi site by examining the affective and intimate relationship between the site’s pilgrims and its patron saint.

In The Impasse of the Latin American Left, Franck Gaudichaud, Massimo Modonesi, and Jeffery R. Webber explore the Latin American Pink Tide as a political, economic, and cultural phenomenon, showing how it failed to transform the underlying class structures of their societies or challenge the imperial strategies of the United States and China.

In Passionate Work, Renyi Hong theorizes the notion of being “passionate about your work” as an affective project that encourages people to endure economically trying situations like unemployment, job change, repetitive and menial labor, and freelancing.

Allan E. S. Lumba explores how the United States used monetary policy and banking systems to justify racial and class hierarchies, enforce capitalist exploitation, and counter movements for decolonization in the American colonial Philippines in Monetary Authorities.

In The Lives of Jessie Sampter, Sarah Imhoff tells the story of the queer, disabled, Zionist writer Jessie Sampter (1883–1938), whose body and life did not match typical Zionist ideals and serves as an example of the complex relationships between the body, queerness, disability, religion, and nationalism.

Jodi Kim examines how the United States extends its sovereignty across Asia and the Pacific in the post-World War II era through a militarist settler imperialism that is leveraged on debt in Settler Garrison.

In Legal Spectatorship, Kelli Moore traces the political origins of the concept of domestic violence through visual culture in the United States, showing how it is rooted in the archive of slavery.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Queer African Cinema

Today we’re excited to present a guest post by Lindsey Green-Simms, author of the new book Queer African Cinemas. The book examines films produced by and about queer Africans in the first two decades of the twenty-first century, showing how these films record the fear, anxiety, and vulnerability many queer Africans experience while at the same time imagining new hopes and possibilities. Lindsey B. Green-Simms is Associate Professor of Literature at American University and author of Postcolonial Automobility: Car Culture in West Africa.

In my new book, Queer African Cinemas, I look at all the different ways queer African films have registered various forms of resistance and have shown the multiple ways that queer African subjects love, dream, negotiate, flee, and craft new worlds. The following 10 fiction films capture the difficulty of queer existence but also highlight the potentials for queer life-building and joy.  Some of them are difficult to find, but some can be streamed on platforms that many readers will be able to access.  All of the films ask us to listen carefully to subtle and quiet modes of resistance and to think about queer Africans in all of their complexity, not simply as objects of homophobia.

Dakan, dir. Mohamed Camara (Guinea, 1997)

Dakan

Dakan, the first Black African feature film to depict homosexuality, was a film that was, in many ways, ahead of its time. It opens with two high school boys, Manga and Sory, making out in Sory’s red convertible. But neither Manga nor Sory’s parents approve of their relationship. Manga is sent off to a traditional healer and then eventually married off to Oumou, a white woman. Sory, who is expected to take over his father’s lucrative business, is also married off to a woman. Dakan premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and screened primarily abroad where audiences in the diaspora were often elated to see representation of queer love on the continent. But when Dakan screened at FESPACO —the famous pan-African film festival held every other year in Burkina Faso—Camara had to change hotels every day and leave screenings early to avoid being beaten up. Likewise, when the film screened in Guinea, where local imams issued a fatwa against him, Camara narrowly escaped an angry crowd. But, despite the challenges Camara faced funding, casting, and screening the film, Dakan ends defiantly and holds out hope for the possibility that queer African love can exist, and perhaps even flourish, on the continent. It is available for streaming on Amazon, Vimeo, and Kanopy.

Karmen Geï, dir. Joseph Gaï Ramaka (Senegal, 2001)

Fig 1.01 - Karmen Gei

Karmen Geï is another pioneering queer West African film, though its queerness is not necessarily central to the plot. Karmen Geï is a Senegalese adaptation of Georges Bizet’s famous 1875 opera Carmen. In Ramaka’s film, the first ever African adaptation, the music is not opera but Afro-jazz with a host of famous African-American and Senegalese musicians creating a pulsing, improvisational jazz and drumming score. Moreover, in Karmen Geï Carmen is not an outlaw from Southern Spain caught in a love triangle between two men. Instead, Karmen is a Senegalese woman, recently released from prison after seducing the female warden, who loves both men and women but who, like all Carmens, insists on her own freedom even though it costs her. And though this artful and somewhat opaque film does not necessarily say anything directly about what it’s like to live as a queer person in Senegal, it is a beautiful portrait of refusal, love, waywardness, and eccentricity. It can be streamed on Kanopy, Vimeo and YouTube.

Stories of Our Lives, dir. Jim Chuchu (Kenya, 2014)

Fig Intro.03

The Nest Collective and Jim Chuchu did not set out to make Kenya’s first queer film but that’s precisely what happened. In 2013 members of the Nest Collective, a multidisciplinary art collective, had been traveling around Kenya collecting stories from queer-identified people for a book project called Stories of Our Lives.  They decided to turn a few of the stories into short films to show to the community of people they had interviewed. One of these shorts was shown to a curator of the Toronto International Film Festival who then asked if the Nest Collective could make more vignettes for a feature-length film. The collective agreed, and Stories was slated to show in Toronto before the film was even finished. The Stories of Our Lives film anthology consists of five emotionally charged black and white vignettes that show the different ways queer Kenyans live and love. Unfortunately, though the film was met with well-deserved critical praise internationally, it was banned in Kenya and has not been screened there. It can be rented on Vimeo.

Rafiki, dir. Wanuri Kahiu (Kenya, 2018)

Fig 4.07 - Rafiki

Rafiki is another film that was banned in Kenya, though a judge did lift the ban for seven days so that the film could be eligible for an Oscar. Theaters in the country were so packed that Rafiki became the second highest grossing Kenyan film. Based on Monica Arac de Nyeko’s prize-winning short story “Jambula Tree,” Rafiki tells the story of two girls from opposing politicians’ families who fall in love in Nairobi. The film is a gorgeous homage to the colors, sounds, and street life in Nairobi as Kahiu fills the screen with pinks, purples, and bright green and introduces us to Kenyan musicians, fashion labels, and artists. The film stands out for its vibrancy as well as for its belief in the possibility of young queer love. And though it’s difficult to see in Kenya, outside of its country of origin, it can be found on Amazon, Hulu, ShowTime, and Apple TV to name just a few.

Inxeba, dir. John Trengove (South Africa, 2017)

Fig 3.05 - Inxeba

Inxeba, or The Wound in translation, takes place on a mountain in the Eastern Cape during the Xhosa male circumcision and initiation rites known as ulwaluko. Two of the protagonists are Xolani and Vija, old friends and lovers who resume their secret queer affair every year when they journey to the mountain and act as caregivers to the young boys who come for their initiation. But when Xolani becomes the caregiver to Kwanda, a brazen, out gay boy from Johannesburg, Xolani and Vija’s desire to remain quiet is challenged. This film breaks away from the tradition of situating African queerness primarily in urban settings and asks pressing questions about the role of tradition, the premium placed on being out, and ways of disrupting the violence of heteronormative masculinity. It is currently available to stream (under the title The Wound) on Vudu, Google Play, Apple TV, and Amazon.

Kanarie, dir. Christaan Olwagen (South Africa, 2018)

Fig 3.07 - Kanarie

Kanarie is, like Karmen Geï, a film infused with musical numbers and dance sequences, but its setting and content could not be further from that of Karmen Geï. Kanarie takes place during the South African Border Wars when the apartheid regime fought insurgents in Namibia and Angola.  The war, which began in the 1960s, lasted for decades but Kanarie is set during 1984-1985 when a state of emergency was declared that led to draconian law enforcement and military operation against non-white South Africans. At the beginning of the film Johan Niemand, the small-town Boy George-obsessed protagonist is conscripted into the army and joins the Defense Force Choir, the Kanaries. Despite its heavy topic, the film is a quirky coming out story, full of 1980s pop music, set in the most unlikely of spaces, and it takes the audience on a complicated journey with Johan as he tries to understand both his own sexuality and what it means to be a white, gay South African serving in the apartheid government’s Defense Force. It is currently available to stream on the Roku Channel, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Apple TV, and Tubi.

Moffie, dir Oliver Hermanus (South Africa, 2019)

A scene from the trailer of 'Moffie'. (Screenshot: YouTube/
Portobello Productions)

(Screenshot: YouTube/ Portobello Productions)

Moffie is set slightly earlier than Kanarie but is also about a white gay South African boy who discovers his queer identity after being conscripted into the army. However, Moffie, an adaptation of André Carl van der Merwe’s semiautobiographical novel, has none of the lightness of Kanarie and follows the protagonist, Nicholas Van der Swart, through his grueling training and active duty in a particularly violent counterinsurgency unit. Even Hermanus himself admits that the film is triggering and brutal as it’s intended to depict the multiple ways the military dehumanized non-white and non-straight bodies. Thematically, the film also serves as a prequel to Hermanus’s 2011 film Skoonheid about a closeted Afrikaner man (formerly in the Defense Force) who becomes violent with another man. It is currently available to stream on Hulu, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon, and Apple TV.

We Don’t Live Here Anymore, dir Tope Oshin (Nigeria, 2018)

Fig 2.13 - We Don't Live Here Anymore

We Don’t Live Here Anymore is the first feature-length film produced by The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs), a Nigeria-based human rights non-profit that focuses on sexual minorities. We Don’t Live Here Anymore is the second film TIERs produced – the first was the short film Hell or High Water, which is available for free on YouTube. With both films, TIERs worked with stars and directors from Nollywood, the popular Nigerian film industry, to combat homophobia and elicit compassion both for gay characters and their family members. We Don’t Live Here Anymore centers on the fallout after two teenage boys are caught together on school grounds. Rather than supporting their sons, the parents flounder. One mother decides to use her wealth and connections to paint her son as a victim. The other fails to get her son to safety soon enough. In many ways, the film is less about the two boys and more about the mothers, and it serves as a cautionary tale, as many Nollywood films do, about the failure to stand up to both internal and external homophobia. It can be streamed on Amazon and Google Play.

Walking with Shadows, dir. Aoife O’Kelly (Nigeria, 2020)

Fig 2.14 - Walking with Shadows

Walking with Shadows is a co-production between TIERs and Oya Media, the production company of the former Nigerian talk show host Funmi Iyanda. Walking with Shadows is the adaptation of Jude Dibia’s novel of the same name, the first Nigerian novel to focus on a gay protagonist. Both Iyanda and former TIERs executive director Olumide Makanjuola had long dreamed of making Dibia’s groundbreaking book into a film and when they teamed up to do so they made a beautiful rendition of this classic coming out story. The plot is straight-forward: when the successful businessman Adrian Ebele Njoko is outed by a co-worker seeking revenge, Adrian must re-evaluate his life and his relationship with his wife, family, and friends. Like Dibia’s book, the film asks audiences who might otherwise reject queer people to think about them as fully human and also provides the type of gay protagonist that is rarely represented in Nigerian film and literature. The film screened to packed theaters at the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) in Lagos and toured globally but has not yet been made available on streaming platforms.

Ifé, dir. Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim (Nigeria, 2020) 

Screenshot from the lesbian film Ife

(Screenshot from PM News)

Ifé is a 35-minute short film, produced in partnership with Pamela Adie’s The Equality Hub, a Lagos-based organization focusing on the rights of female sexual minorities. (Adie also made a coming out documentary, Under the Rainbow, about her own life). Ifé begins with the titular character preparing for a date with Adaora, a woman she has not yet met in person. Adaora and Ifé immediately connect and their one-night date stretches into three intimate days. Unlike other queer Nigerian films, Ifé is not about how these women’s love might affect their larger community, nor is it a film in which anyone is trying to save anyone from the supposed sins of homosexuality. Rather, Ifé, the first Nigerian film written, produced, and directed by queer women, focuses on queer women’s intimacy when it gets to exist, for just a moment, in a protected space, safely inside the walls of Ifé’s home. Ifé, along with Adie’s first film, can be rented on the Equality Hub’s own streaming platform.

Use coupon code E22GRNSM to save 30% on Queer African Cinemas by Lindsey Green-Simms.

Best Books of 2021

We’re always pleased to see our books land on various best of the year lists. Check out some of the great titles that were featured in 2021’s lists.

Pitchfork named Joshua Clover’s Roadrunner to their Best Music Books of 2021 list, calling it “as ecstatic as the music it celebrates.” 

On the International Center of Photography blog, Vince Aletti included A Time of Youth by William Gedney in his list of the top ten photobooks of the year, writing that Gedney’s “queer eye never misses the shaggy-haired beauties and the tender, erotic undercurrent here is Gedney’s signature.” 

The New York Times’s Holland Cotter put the Virginia Museum of Fine Art’s The Dirty South on his list of the best art exhibitions of the year, and the catalog, which we distribute, on his list of the best art books of the year. He says, “The book vividly illustrates and deepens the show’s powerful argument.” Cotter also named Lorraine O’Grady’s Brooklyn Museum retrospective, Both/And as one of the year’s best exhibitions, and said her 2020 book Writing in Space, 1973-2019 was “a vital supplement to the show.” You can catch The Dirty South at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston through February 6 and Both/And at Greensboro’s Weatherspoon Art Museum from January 4-April 30, 2022.

Writing in Bookforum’s Best Books of 2021 feature, Elias Rodriques said The Long Emancipation by Rinaldo Walcott “gave [him] new tools to think with in Black studies.”

Smithsonian Magazine asked contributors to name their best books of 2021 and Joshua Bell, curator of globalization recommended Max Liboiron’s Pollution Is Colonialism, calling it “a beautifully written text that is both a handbook on method and a call to rethink how we live our lives on occupied land.”

Entropy put Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s Dub: Finding Ceremony on its list of 2020 and 2021’s best poetry books. And Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries, told The Art Newspaper that her trilogy, including Spill, M Archive, and Dub, was his best read of the year. He said, “This trilogy, as well as Gumbs’s most recent work, Undrowned, offers fascinating insights into new forms of togetherness—among ourselves and our environment.”

Christianity Today selected Chosen Peoples by Christopher Tounsel as a finalist for its best History and Biography book of the year.

On the Verso books blog, Mark Neocleous selected Christopher Chitty’s Sexual Hegemony as his best book of the year, saying it was “a nuanced rethinking of Foucault’s relation to Marx and Marxism.”

Writing in The Millions about the best books she read this year, Arianna Rebolini said Magical Habits by Monica Huerta was “much-needed reminder that there are countless ways to tell a story, and that a book can be whatever you want it to be.”

If you haven’t already, we hope you will seek out some of these highly recommended books!

The Most Read Articles of 2021

As 2021 comes to a close, we’re reflecting on the most read articles across all our journals. Check out the top 10 articles that made the list, all freely available until the end of January.

Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy” by Alice E. Marwick
Public Culture no. 75

Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin” by Donna Haraway
Environmental Humanities volume 6, issue 1

Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid for Mobilization and Survival” by Dean Spade
Social Text no. 142

Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959)” by Shamus Khan
Public Culture no. 91

Necropolitics” by Achille Mbembe
Public Culture volume 15, issue 1

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (1983)” by Manu Goswami
Public Culture no. 91

Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” by Cathy J. Cohen
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies volume 3, issue 4

All Power to All People?: Black LGBTTI2QQ Activism, Remembrance, and Archiving in Toronto” by Syrus Marcus Ware
TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly volume 4, issue 2

Radical Care: Survival Strategies for Uncertain Times” by Hi‘ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart and Tamara Kneese
Social Text no. 142

Young Adults’ Migration to Cities in Sweden: Do Siblings Pave the Way?” by Clara H. Mulder, Emma Lundholm, and Gunnar Malmberg
Demography volume 57, issue 6

Honoring Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, and March 8 is International Women’s Day! This month we are highlighting some recent titles that honor the central but too-often neglected roles women play across history and around the globe.

In Empire’s Mistress Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez follows the life of Filipina vaudeville and film actress Isabel Rosario Cooper, who was the mistress of General Douglas MacArthur, to explore the contours of empire as experienced on the scale of personal relationships.

In Revisiting Women’s Cinema Lingzhen Wang examines the work of Chinese women filmmakers of the Mao and post-Mao eras to theorize socialist and postsocialist feminism, mainstream culture, and women’s cinema in modern China.

Chelsea Szendi Schieder examines the campus-based New Left in Japan by exploring the significance of women’s participation in the protest movements of the 1960s in Coed Revolution.

Samantha Pinto’s Infamous Bodies explores how histories of and the ongoing fame of Phillis Wheatley, Sally Hemings, Sarah Baartman, Mary Seacole, and Sarah Forbes Bonetta generate new ways of imagining black feminist futures.

In Emancipation’s Daughters Riché Richardson examines how five iconic black women—Mary McLeod Bethune, Rosa Parks, Condoleezza Rice, Michelle Obama, and Beyoncé—defy racial stereotypes and construct new national narratives of black womanhood in the United States.

In Relative Races Brigitte Fielder presents an alternative theory of how race is constructed with readings of nineteenth-century personal narratives, novels, plays, stories, poems, and images to illustrate how interracial kinship follows non-heteronormative, non-biological, and non-patrilineal models of inheritance in nineteenth-century literary culture.


In Claiming Union Widowhood Brandi Clay Brimmer analyzes the US pension system from the perspective of poor black women in the period before, during, and after the Civil War outlines the struggles of mothers, wives, and widows of black Union soldiers to claim rights in the face of unjust legislation.

In Black Aliveness Kevin Quashie analyzes texts by of Lucille Clifton, June Jordan, Toni Morrison, Evie Shockley, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others to argue for a Black aliveness that is disarticulated from antiblackness and which provides the basis for the imagination and creation of a Black world.

In The Wombs of Women Françoise Vergès examines the scandal of white doctors forcefully terminating the pregnancies of thousands of poor women of color on the French island of Réunion during the 1960s, showing how they resulted from the legacies of the racialized violence of slavery and colonialism.

Engaging with the work of Black musicians, writers, and women mystics, in Black Utopias Jayna Brown takes up the concept of utopia as an occasion to explore new states of being, doing, and imagining in Black culture.

In Information Activism Cait McKinney traces how lesbian feminist activists in the United States and Canada between the 1970s and the present developed communication networks, databases, and digital archives to use as a foundation for their feminist, antiracist, and trans-inclusive work.

In A Regarded Self Kaiama L. Glover examines Francophone and Anglophone Caribbean literature whose female protagonists enact practices of freedom that privilege the self, challenge the prioritization of the community over the individual, and refuse masculinist discourses of postcolonial nation building.

The “20th Anniversary Reader” of Meridians, edited by Ginetta E. B. Candelario, features thirty of the journal’s most frequently cited, downloaded, and anthologized works since its first issue was published in fall 2000. The forty authors featured in the special supplement are a virtual who’s who of internationally renowned women-of-color scholar-activists (such as Sara Ahmed, Angela Davis, Sonia Alvarez, Paula Giddings, and Sunera Thobani) and award-winning poets (such as Nikky Finney, Laurie Ann Guerrero, and Suheir Hammad).

And check out our Feminist Politics and Women’s Rights Syllabus, one of several staff-curated syllabi focusing on today’s most critical issues.

Guest Post: Max Fox Discusses His Experience Editing Christopher Chitty’s Work for Sexual Hegemony

Today’s post is by Sexual Hegemony: Statecraft, Sodomy, and Capital in the Rise of the World System editor, Max Fox. Fox is also an editor of Pinko magazine, a former editor of the New Inquiry, and translator of The Amphitheater of the Dead. In Sexual Hegemony, Christopher Chitty traces the 500 year history of capitalist sexual relations, showing how sexuality became a crucial dimension of the accumulation of capital and a technique of bourgeois rule. Christopher Chitty (1983–2015) was a PhD candidate in the History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

I met Christopher Chitty in 2009, in the context of a student movement against the university as presently constituted. We occupied buildings, issued communiqués and rallied support, statewide at first, then nationally and internationally. I had thought at the start we might not have had a resonant cause, but soon discovered that the financial crisis and ensuing recession ran directly through campuses everywhere. Though supposedly a machine for class stability if not mobility, the university instead was sequestering exotic social villains like credit default swaps and the end of economic growth in our tuition, stabilizing itself by immiserating us. In this, we discovered that the university was not apart from the world but showed us exactly how it worked. 

The university held itself up as a refuge from the market where thought could take place. But the movement against it was my most significant teacher, and Chris personified it for me. And his research into what was revolutionary about the sexual liberation movement addressed another question, one that I hadn’t been able to formulate to myself. I didn’t yet know how to square the obvious shortcomings of the NOH8 era of lobbying for gay rights with the equally plain danger presented by its enemies, but Chris braided the critique. I took our arguments about the bankruptcy of the university seriously, and when I left school and committed myself to building a publishing infrastructure that could support and circulate left thinking outside of an academy that seemed unsupportive at best, it was above all Chris and his work that I had in mind. 

So when he committed suicide, suddenly, in 2015, I almost collapsed. Grieving his death also meant grieving the political coherence that I felt his work had promised me. But it was not just my self concept at risk. His work concerned the meaning of the struggle in which hundreds of thousands had died, and its bearing on the future liberation and survival of everyone else. He had impressed upon me that the losses from the HIV/AIDS epidemic were not just private tragedies but formed a front in the wider war against the global liberation struggle of the 60s and 70s, and so represented a revolutionary legacy which we let fade at our own peril. With these as the stakes, I simply could not let his project end with him. 

So taking on the work felt like no decision at all, though I had never edited such a lengthy text nor did I really see the level of intellectual preparation it would require going in. I had to play a number of different roles — researcher, archivist, fact-checker, copy editor, agent, etc. I drew the line at ghostwriter. Freud mentions in “Mourning and Melancholia” that neurotic identification with the lost object is “the expression of there being something in common, which may signify love.” But however much I loved Chris and however much I wanted to continue living out the aspects we shared in common, this process was a long confrontation with how much he eluded me. 

Chris left numerous versions of the chapters he’d been working on. To adequately present his work I had to dig around in his digital files. I both craved and feared that I would uncover an intact manuscript that neatly presented a polished, compact system. But there were only drafts, notes, incomplete sketches of what even in its unfinished form struck me as monumental. I opened one google doc that promised a full chapter on the American century which stopped loading after the third page. I panicked, afraid that the file had been corrupted somehow, but scrolling to the bottom revealed that he simply hadn’t written any further. It felt like I had lost him all over again. I couldn’t work for the rest of the week. 

Given such a volatile process, it’s not a surprise that it took about five years to publish Sexual Hegemony, though I had had much more optimistic plans. At each step of the way there was a new delicate, unrushable negotiation with his family, the publisher, the collaborators, etc. I was lucky to be graced with a supportive social world. I had generous friends and comrades who offered to let me watch their pet or empty apartment when I had to find a place to focus, and forbearing boyfriends and roommates who put up with what must have been difficult moods for years at a time. I was able to finish it thanks to cheap rent and flexible copywriting gigs I took on to subsidize the work. And the willingness of relative strangers like Christopher Nealon and Courtney Berger to agree to collaborate on such a project with an untested steward like me was an act of faith I can only attribute to the unmistakable power of Chris’s work.

I am grateful for everything that allowed me to share it with readers from a platform that encourages that it will be read. And I am proud that I refused to let mere death prevent his insights from getting out. But how do I register the simultaneous tragedy it represents? I find it very hard not to see him as a casualty of the university which we struggled against together. The fact that I was able to arrange support for my efforts with his work posthumously isn’t a triumph, either, just a story of differently distributed costs. The oblivion still menacing attempts at thinking and writing seriously outside of the academy is a grave political risk as the university now enters an even deeper crisis than the one which brought Chris and I together in 2009. But the fear that gripped me when he died, that he might somehow take the memory of this movement with him, has thankfully abated. Maybe because now the crisis we fought is so endemic as to be unremarkable, our strenuously defended political orientation is more widespread. As I wrestled him these past five years to preserve his legacy in a book, I didn’t anticipate another metamorphosis that continues, though without him. Behind my back grew a movement ready to see itself in him, take his thought, and begin the work of tearing everything down. 

Read the introduction to Sexual Hegemony free online and save 30% on the paperback edition with the coupon code E20HGMNY.

The Most Read Articles of 2020

As 2020 (finally!) comes to a close, we’re reflecting on the most read articles across all our journals. Check out the top 10 articles that made the list, all freely available until the end of January.

Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy” by Alice E. Marwick
Public Culture volume 27, issue 1 (75)

Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin” by Donna Haraway
Environmental Humanities volume 6, issue 1

Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” by Cathy J. Cohen
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies volume 3, issue 4

Necropolitics” by Achille Mbembe
Public Culture volume 15, issue 1

Radical Care: Survival Strategies for Uncertain Times” by Hi‘ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart and Tamara Kneese
Social Text volume 38, issue 1 (142)

Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid for Mobilization and Survival” by Dean Spade
Social Text volume 38, issue 1 (142)

Twin-Spirited Woman: Sts’iyóye smestíyexw slhá:li” by Saylesh Wesley
TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly volume 1, issue 3

Markup Bodies: Black [Life] Studies and Slavery [Death] Studies at the Digital Crossroads” by Jessica Marie Johnson
Social Text volume 36, issue 4 (137)

The Digital Cloud and the Micropolitics of Energy” by Allison Carruth
Public Culture volume 26, issue 2 (73)

All Power to All People?: Black LGBTTI2QQ Activism, Remembrance, and Archiving in Toronto” by Syrus Marcus Ware
TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly volume 4, issue 2

Happy 80th Birthday to Esther Newton

Join us today in wishing pioneering anthropologist Esther Newton a happy eightieth birthday. We are proud to have published three titles by Newton and invite you to revisit them in her honor today.

Newton’s editor, Ken Wissoker, shares, “For as long as I can remember, Esther Newton has been a guiding presence in queer anthropology. When I started as an editor, I would sometimes sit with her and Elizabeth Kennedy at talks, watching what she had helped birth in the legendary Mother Camp grow into a major part of the field. Our collaborations on Margaret Mead Made Me Gay and on her memoir My Butch Career are highlights of my time at the Press, books that will carry her work for queer generations to come.

My Butch CareerIn her memoir My Butch Career (2018), Newton tells the compelling, disarming, and at times sexy story of her struggle to write, teach, and find love, all while coming to terms with her identity during a particularly intense time of homophobic persecution in the twentieth century. Despite having written the now-classic text Mother Camp (1972), she was denied tenure twice. But by age forty, where My Butch Career‘s narrative ends, she began to achieve personal and scholarly stability in the company of the first politicized generation of out lesbian and gay scholars with whom she helped create gender and sexuality studies.

978-0-8223-2612-0_prWhile My Butch Career mingles personal reflection on her upbringing, her parents, and her love affairs with her struggle to be recognized professionally, Margaret Mead Made Me Gay (2000) is more of an intellectual memoir that chronicles the development of her ideas from the excitement of early feminism in the 1960s to friendly critiques of queer theory in the 1990s.

978-0-8223-5553-3_prIn 2014, we brought Newton’s book Cherry Grove, Fire Island, originally published in in 1993, back into print in a teachable paperback edition. The book is a cultural history of the gay and lesbian vacation town near New York City, where she herself vacationed for many years. Her ethnography was deeply personal. In an interview with Cultural Anthropology, she recounts, “I gave a book party in the Grove to sell books, but also to do a slideshow, to give something back to the community. What people really were interested in, though, was to go to the index and look for their own names.”

A movie about Newton is in the works. One scene was filmed at the Duke University Press booth at the 2018 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, where we launched My Butch Career. We can’t wait to see it!

These days Esther Newton is retired and splits her time between Michigan, where she was previously a professor of American Culture and Women’s and Gender Studies, and Florida. She enjoys spending time with family and doing agility training with her dogs. When interviewed for Queer Forty a few years ago, she said, “The second half of life does hold pleasures. We are not as hot as we once were, but we can know the pleasures of long term life partner relationships and friendships. . . . Some of the uncertainty and anxiety of the earlier years do abate. And I have found that there is such a thing as wisdom.”

Esther Newton on motorcycle

Esther Newton, 1967. Photograph by Nancy Rae Smith.

Thank you, Esther, for all the wisdom you have shared through your scholarship, and Happy Birthday!

New Titles in Women’s Studies

Every year we look forward to meeting authors in person at the NWSA Annual Meeting, and we are sad to be missing out on that this year. 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 50% discount on all in-stock books and journal issues with coupon code NWSA20 until November 23, 2020.

View our Women’s Studies catalog below for a complete list of all our newest titles in women, gender, and sexuality studies and across disciplines. You can also explore all of our books and journals in the field on dukeupress.edu. And although you cannot join us in the booth this year, you can listen to a number of our authors discuss their books through our In Conversation series on our YouTube channel.

Editor Elizabeth Ault has a message for everyone who would have attended NWSA this year, with her recommendations of the latest books in women, gender, and sexuality studies.

Editor Elizabeth Ault

Dear NWSA,

I was so looking forward to gathering with you all in the greatest city in the world, Minneapolis, this fall, but it’s not to be. I’m sending solidarity to all the folks who have been doing incredible organizing work there for years before the murder of George Floyd (#justiceforfonglee, #justiceforjamarclarke, #ceceisfree, #cecetaughtme #justiceforphilandocastile) and continue to provide networks of care and support every dang day. 

I am so excited to be in conversation with y’all about the feminist work in Black studies, disability studies, geography, trans studies, queer theory, history, and more that has its home at NWSA. Please sign up for office hours to discuss your work with me here

In the meantime, I know many of you are shopping the sale. Here are some crucial feminist texts that would never have made it to 50% off day in the booth–and you can get them shipped directly to you for 50% off from our website!!!  You’ll see important strands of Black feminist thought and queer theory throughout these books, so I’ve tried to organize them more by method and topic to help you find what you’re looking for. 

I’m writing this in late October and you’ll be reading it on the other side of whatever happens on November 3. Regardless, I’m confident these books have important wisdom to offer us as we move through this extraordinarily painful year, fortified by the work of organizers in Minneapolis and around the world, and by these thinkers and writers. They’re all helping us to imagine the world we want to live in and work to make it possible.

Jih-Fei Cheng, Alex Juhasz, and Nishant Shahani’s AIDS and the Distribution of Crises comes directly out of that scholarly/activist nexus, bringing together insights from a range of fields and positions about the ongoing viral crises that COVID-19 cratered into this winter. Sima Shakhsari’s book The Politics of Rightful Killing looks at transnational online networks of writers and activists to consider how Iranians in the diaspora and Iran itself thought about reconstituting democracy. Jillian Hernandez’s Aesthetics of Excess is right there too, drawing on her work with Black and Latina girls in Women on The Rise in Miami.

Writing in Space

Alongside the amazing art Jillian and her interlocutors at WOTR created, much of which is included in full color in the book, we have some really amazing feminist art books out right now. Lorraine O’Grady’s work was at the center of the mind-blowing, pathbreaking We Wanted a Revolution show at the Brooklyn Museum a few years back, and now she has her own solo show there, accompanied by this new book of her writings about art practice and her vision for a Black feminist art world, Writing in Space. Maya Stovall has been performing and showing Liquor Store Theatre, a Detroit-based art and performance project for several years; her book by the same name considers the project as an ethnographic one reimagining what dispossessed neighborhoods in Detroit might still play host to. Bakirathi Mani’s new book, Unseeing Empire, centers work by South Asian women artists Annu Matthew, Seher Shah, and Gauri Gill to consider how empire continues to haunt South Asian desires for representation and representability.

978-1-4780-0663-3But it’s not just visual arts that are important – feminist approaches to music also play a big role on this list, with books by Maureen Mahon, Shana Redmond, Ren Ellis Neyra, and Xavier Livermon centering the sonic.

And Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s Dub is a work of art–no less than an oracle for our times. 

Another oracular work newly available is Jose Munoz’s posthumous Sense of Brown. This book is deep and lasting and Jose’s influence and importance is so clear and undeniable. More theoretical work on this list alongside Jose’s is Cressida Heyes’s book Anaesthetics of Existence, which is really speaking to me as this year continues to take and take. It’s a feminist phenomenology for this moment. Other books theorizing embodiment here include Neetu Khanna’s Visceral Logics of Decolonization, and Naked Agency, in which author Naminata Diabate considers women’s naked protests across Africa and the diaspora as a weighty, powerful form of vulnerable resistance.

naked agency

Diabate’s work is embedded in a long history of such protests–new feminist history work from Brandi Brimmer, Francoise Verges, and Lynn Thomas provides important tools for understanding how we got here, and how things could be different. 

And feminist ethnography has a strong presence on this list too, with nuanced and sensitive accounts of relationality and care in everyday life from Abigail Dumes, Saiba Varma, and Marilyn Strathern

information activism
Click cover image for In Conversation talk with McKinney!

Relations, the topic of Strathern’s capacious theorization, are also at the foundation of Brigitte Fielder’s rethinking of kinship and race. Her book is part of a strong list in queer and feminist cultural and literary studies that includes new books from Jack Halberstam (important queer theory, yes, but also important Kate Bush content!), Bo Ruberg (whose new book series is accepting proposals), Gillian Harkins (why are you still watching To Catch a Predator? I mean, you won’t after reading this book), Cait McKinney (the book we fondly refer to as “how lesbians invented the internet”), Erica Fretwell (She’ll make you care about The Yellow Wallpaper again, through centering the role of SMELL of all things), and Sam Pinto (the definitive take on Sarah Baartman and Sally Hemings that you have been waiting for!!).

That’s a lot of books! There’s so much richness and brilliance here. I’m excited to hear what you think about these books and how they’re informing your own work on twitter and in my office hours. In the meantime, keep well.

If you were hoping to connect with Elizabeth Ault or another of our editors about your book project at NWSA, please reach out to them by email. See our editors’ specialties and contact information here and our online submissions guidelines here.

And don’t forget about our great journals in gender studies, like Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism; the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies; Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies; differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies; GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, and TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. If you don’t have access through your library, ask them to subscribe, pick up a personal subscription, or add a special issue to your sale order!

In Conversation: Ricardo Montez and Joshua Gutterman Tranen

Watch our latest In Conversation video in which Assistant Editor Joshua Gutterman Tranen talks with Ricardo Montez about his new book, Keith Haring’s Line: Race and the Performance of Desire. They discuss the life and legacy of Keith Haring, the commercialization of his work, and how to think through Haring’s complicated – and at times problematic – relationship to Black and Latinx culture.