What is your professional background, and how did you come to be involved with GLQ? What drew you to the journal?
CRS: I am a writer and professor with training in media and cultural studies and working broadly in the fields of Black studies, queer studies, and transgender studies. I am also involved in movements that work for the liberation of Black, queer and trans lives. I first encountered GLQ as an undergraduate women and gender studies major, and the journal has been a recurring touchpoint in my formal and political education. My first publication in GLQ underscores that point, as I was honored to write a short piece of reflection for the 25th anniversary of Cathy Cohen’s noted essay, “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” (GLQ, 1997). Cohen’s essay, to my mind, remains a key example of how queer studies has always had a deep relationship with queer activism.
There were many reasons I was drawn to the journal. It is an honor to serve the field in this capacity, and I feel fortunate to have served alongside Jennifer DeVere Brody and Marcia Ochoa. I greatly admired and am inspired by the editors and editorial team at GLQ and was eager to experience the sociality of queer scholarship through editorial and curatorial work. I also value the short form—the article—as a writing and thinking exercise.
JDB: The editorial team was eager to solidify intellectual connections between Black, queer, and trans studies and we looked to C. Riley Snorton’s scholarship as a model. His contribution for our 25th anniversary issue commented on the most cited essay by Cathy Cohen and we all knew him to be a superb collaborator. It is a joy to work with him and the editorial collective that now meets regularly on Zoom.
What is your vision for GLQ—how do you hope to shape the journal into the future?
CRS: I’ll start by expressing a shared sensibility among the members of the editorial team to highlight scholarship that extends beyond North American (settler colonial) understandings of sex and sexuality.
I have always thought that queer studies (and Black studies and trans studies, for that matter) can be useful for understanding any sort of phenomena, that is that it is a lens for thinking about power, geography, representation, race, feeling, gender, capital, etc., etc. I am also eager to explore the ways GLQ exists beyond print form, whether that’s by hosting incubators for early career scholars, contributing to or producing podcasts, or deepening our online presence.
JDB: Indeed, we hope to think more about other modes of scholarly engagement and incorporating even more visual, sonic, and interactive events.
What recent topics has the journal covered?Are there forthcoming topics or special issues you’re looking forward to?
CRS: I am proud that my time as coeditor coincides with the release of “Cuir/Queer Américas,” a multilingual conversation happening across multiple journals and multiple countries which represents a culmination of the vision of a collective of scholars (including former coeditor Marcia Ochoa) working on queerness and trans* among Latinx and in the Caribbean and across Latin America.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
CRS: It has been rewarding to work with every member of the editorial team—the State of the Field editors, Books-in-Brief editor, Moving Image, and the associate editors who all bring their vision and expertise to bear on the journal. I am also profoundly grateful to Liz Beasley, GLQ’s managing editor, who is key to keeping all systems running. I want to express respect for every previous editor at the journal and appreciation for the editorial board.
June is Pride Month, and we’re proud to take this opportunity to revisit recent books and journal issues that center on queer studies, trans studies, and LGBTQ+ histories.
The contributors to “Left of Queer,” an issue of Social Text edited by David L. Eng and Jasbir K. Puar, offer a detailed examination of queerness and its nearly three-decade academic institutionalization, exploring how emergent debates in three key areas—debility, indigeneity, and trans—connect queer studies to a host of urgent sociopolitical issues. Taking a position that is politically left of the current academic and political mainstreaming of queerness, the essays in this issue examine what is left of queer—what remains outside of the political, economic, and cultural mandates of the state and the liberal individual as its prized subject.
In Wild Things Jack Halberstam offers an alternative history of sexuality by tracing the ways in which the wild—a space located beyond normative borders of sexuality—offers sources of opposition to knowing and being that transgress Euro-American notions of the modern subject.
The HIV/AIDS crisis is often imagined as over, yet it remains in ongoing relevance to trans life and trans death. Contributors to “Trans in a Time of HIV/AIDS,” an issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly edited by Eva Hayward and Che Gossett, examine the intersection of HIV/AIDS and trans studies, theory, and politics. Topics include differences between past and present conjuncture of trans and the virus; how HIV/AIDS matters for present-day trans studies scholarship, especially in our purportedly post-AIDS-crisis moment; and the relationship between the virus and “trans visibility.”
“Queer Political Theologies,” an issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies edited by Ricky Varghese, David K. Seitz, and Fan Wu, brings together queer studies and political theology in order to explore the relationship between the self and politics, theism, and queerness. Going beyond previous work in queer political theology that has focused primarily on Christianity, contributors to this issue consider how queer sexualities appear in other theological contexts, including articles on astrological, Blackpentecostal, Thirunangai, hijra, and sarimbavy ways of life, recentering marginalized and underrepresented minorities, beliefs, and practices.
Drawing from ethnographic work with queer activist groups in contemporary Turkey, in Queer in Translation Evren Savcı explores how Western LGBT politics are translated and reworked there in ways that generate new spaces for resistance and solidarity.
In “The AIDS Crisis Is Not Over,” a Radical History Review issue edited by Emily K. Hobson and Dan Royles, contributors trace histories from around the globe and examine how HIV/AIDS has been shaped by the political economies of neoliberalism and state violence. They expand understandings of the AIDS crisis to include issues of labor, housing, and carcerality and consider ways to teach the global history of AIDS and examine key questions in writing, preserving, and remembering histories of AIDS activism.
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. The book, published posthumously, is edited by Max Fox.
The Sense of Brown, which he was completing at the time of his death, is José Esteban Muñoz’s treatise on brownness and being as well as his most direct address to queer Latinx studies. The book is edited and introduced by Joshua Chambers-Letson and Tavia Nyong′o.
In The Small Book of Hip Checks Erica Rand uses multiple meanings of hip check—an athlete using their hip to throw an opponent off balance and the inspection of racialized gender—to consider the workings of queer gender, race, and writing.
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.
Ricardo Montez traces the drawn and painted line that was at the center of Keith Haring’s artistic practice, engaging with Haring’s messy relationships to race-making and racial imaginaries in Keith Haring’s Line.
What makes “Left of Queer” unique or essential? What does it do that no other collection has done before?
When we first started to conceive “Left of Queer” almost three years ago, we did not think it would be feasible to publish a “state of the field” assessment akin to the special Social Text issue “What’s Queer About Queer Studies Now?” That earlier issue, published in 2005, became a classic statement of sorts by queer-of-color scholars attempting to assert the centrality of race, empire, and diaspora in queer studies. In the intervening years, the field has expanded and become so multifaceted that much of what we might call queer studies today would not have necessarily been recognized as such in the 1990s, when the field first emerged, or even in the aughts, as it was becoming more institutionalized. Instead of reiterating the centrality of work that already enjoyed broad readership, we decided to explore the peripheries of queer studies: What were the latent issues that could be elaborated in greater depth? Who did we think was underread? Who was writing scholarship that might be considered as part of the broader theoretical and political commitments of queer studies, but rarely taught or read in this manner? In short, we sought to amplify less obvious connections.
For instance, we mark an ongoing, decades-long debate about geopolitical exceptionalism in queer theory. This concern emerged in the 1990s with critical attention to the imperial travels of the term “queer,” for instance in rights discourses and tourism. It sparked a lively interrogation of the ongoing tensions—the convergences and divergences—between queer studies and area studies, and between queer studies and anthropology, but it did not sufficiently recognize the ways in which the field itself was driven by an unmarked politics of location. While the 2005 special issue brought a specific uptake of the global, the transnational, and the real-politik effects of the 9/11 war on terror as well as US occupation, “Left of Queer” explicitly focuses on this geopolitical exceptionalism by provincializing a version of queer studies that tends to function as American area studies. All the essays in this special issue open up problems of area in relation to materiality—whether land, bodies, labor, subjects, or objects.
What is one article that stands out to you from the issue?
We think all the articles are exceptional, but let us talk about two in relation to the interventions described above.
One strong example of the peripheries of queer studies—of scholarship that should be considered as part of the broader theoretical and political commitments of the field and as amplifying geopolitical exceptionalisms in the field—is the fantastic roundtable on safe space and securitization, edited by Christina Hanhardt and Jasbir. Here, the participants, many of whom are not thought of as queer studies scholars per se, connect recent debates about safe space, trigger warnings, campus alert systems, and Title IX that largely focus on sexual and racial traumas on US campuses to broader questions about securitization and militarization globally. Jennifer Doyle’s trenchant Campus Sex, Campus Security inspired in part the questions for the roundtable. Safe space for whom? And how does one’s safety and security potentially threaten the safety and security of others? How do we think of safe space on campus and in the gayborhood in relation to border walls and checkpoints as well as to problems of occupation and trespass more broadly?
Another strong example of how “Left of Queer” provincializes queer studies can be found in Petrus Liu’s brilliant contribution, “Queer Theory and the Specter of Materialism.” Petrus’s essay troubles so much of queer studies “proper” because it situates a genealogy of the field in China rather than embedding it in a western origin narrative. Instead, he conceives both queer studies and Marxism as materialist theories foregrounding the constitutive sociality of the self, and he places them in a Chinese politics and history that does not replay the unresolved schisms of queer studies and Marxism animating the field in the ’90s. In this manner, the essay displaces the problematic developmentalism of homonationalism—what a relief!—giving us an alternate starting point for what queer theory is and, indeed, what queer studies could be.
To this end, our introduction marks out an important shift from interrogating the politics of (neo)liberal inclusion and progress fueling the ongoing march of rights and recognition on the global stage to fighting white supremacy, authoritarianism, fascism, and militarization. It moves from the critique of human rights that animates a shift from “the woman question” to “the homosexual question” today and focuses instead on abolitionist, anti-nationalist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist forms of resistance and insurgency.
How do you imagine “Left of Queer” could be used in courses?
In terms of the lower-division classroom, we hope that our two very readable roundtables on safe space and on trans will be both critically useful and easily accessible for undergraduates. These roundtables speak directly to pressing debates and concerns on campus: the movement to abolish the carceral state, the policing of black and brown bodies on campus, the attack on non-binary genders. The volume as a whole, we think, is also perfect for graduate seminars exploring both the history of sexuality and topic matters that are connected to but also complicated sexuality as a focal point: courses on global labor, on political theory and economy, on indigeneity, on areas studies. The broad interdisciplinarity of “Left of Queer,” plus our expansion from subjectless critique (problematizing “proper” queer subjects) to objectless critique (moving away from subject positions altogether and illuminating the biopolitical and necropolitical aspects of disaster capitalism) is an additional heuristic for cutting across our various themes.
We have mentioned several of the contributions already. In light of Christina Crosby’s recent and sudden passing, we wanted to end with a special mention of the incredible article that Christina and her partner Janet Jakobsen contributed, “Disability, Debility, and Caring Queerly.” [This article is freely available through the end of April.] One of the final pieces of published writing from Christina’s acclaimed career as a Victorianist, feminist, queer studies, Marxist, and critical theory scholar, this article delves into the messy materialities of queer care and kinship underpinning networks of disability—chains of labor, care work, racial and economic privilege, and affect that are often managed or concealed under the rubric of “independence” (and sometimes even “interdependence”) but without which the disabled subject of rights discourse would neither cohere nor be recognizable as a political actor. That these complex life-sustaining but also debilitating networks must now be transformed to mourn Christina’s tragic loss is a bittersweet testament to the possibilities of queer worldmaking. Christina was unflinching in her exploration of chronic pain—of a body undone—and what it means to live a disability all the while owning the grief of a life once lived. As her friends, colleagues, students, and readers, we honor Christina’s indelible legacy.
Andrew Bickford analyzes the US military’s attempts to design performance enhancement technologies and create pharmacological “supersoldiers” capable of becoming ever more lethal while withstanding various forms of extreme trauma in Chemical Heroes.
Drawing on ethnographic research in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, Christopher Harker in Spacing Debtexamines how Israel’s use of debt to keep Palestinians economically unstable is a form of slow colonial violence embedded into the everyday lives of citizens.
With The Whites are the Enemies of Heaven, Mark W. Driscoll examines Western imperialism in East Asia throughout the nineteenth century and the devastating effects of what he calls climate caucasianism—the West’s racialized pursuit of capital at the expense of people of color, women, and the environment.
In Dear Science and Other Stories Katherine McKittrick presents a creative and rigorous study of black and anticolonial methodologies, exploring how narratives of imprecision and relationality interrupt knowledge systems that seek to observe, index, know, and discipline blackness.
Christopher Freeburg’s Counterlife challenges the imperative to study black social life and slavery and its aftereffects through the lenses of freedom, agency, and domination and instead examines how enslaved Africans created meaning through spirituality, thought, and artistic creativity separate and alongside concerns about freedom.
Riché Richardson in Emancipation’s Daughters 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.
Lingzhen Wang examines the work of Chinese women filmmakers of the Mao and post-Mao eras in Revisiting Women’s Cinemato theorize socialist and postsocialist feminism, mainstream culture, and women’s cinema in modern China.
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 inA Regarded Self.
Erica Rand uses multiple meanings of hip check—an athlete using their hip to throw an opponent off balance and the inspection of racialized gender—to consider the workings of queer gender, race, and writing in the The Small Book of Hip Checks.
Drawing from ethnographic work with queer activist groups in contemporary Turkey, Evren Savcı’s Queer in Translation explores how Western LGBT politics are translated and reworked there in ways that generate new spaces for resistance and solidarity.
Anthony Reed takes the recorded collaborations between African American poets and musicians such as Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez, Cecil Taylor, and Charles Mingus to trace the overlaps between experimental music and poetry and the ways in which intellectuals, poets, and musicians define black sound as a radical aesthetic practice in Soundworks.
The Bruce B. LawrenceReader assembles over two dozen selections of writing by leading scholar of Islam Bruce B. Lawrence which range from analyses of premodern and modern Islamic discourses, practices, and institutions to methodological and theoretical reflections on the study of religion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the days cool and leaves turn so should your new book pages! This month our new book titles will go great with your favorite hot drink.
Examining black performance practices that critique Western humanism, R. A. Judy offers an extended meditation on questions of blackness, the human, epistemology, and the historical ways in which the black being is understood in Sentient Flesh.
In Sensory Experiments, Erica Fretwell examines how psychophysics—a nineteenth-century scientific movement originating in Germany dedicated to the empirical study of sensory experience—became central to the process of creating human difference along the lines of race, gender, and ability in nineteenth-century America.
Brigitte Fielder presents an alternative theory of how race is constructed in Relative Races 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.
The Sense of Brown, which he was completing at the time of his death, is José Esteban Muñoz’s treatise on brownness and being as well as his most direct address to queer Latinx studies. Joshua Chambers-Letson and Tavia Nyong′o have edited the book and written an introduction.
Lyle Fearnley situates the production of ecological facts about the likely epicenter of viral pandemics inside the shifting cultural landscapes of agrarian change and the geopolitics of global health in the timely new book Virulent Zones.
Amalia Leguizamón reveals how the Argentine state, agribusiness, and their allies in the media and sciences deploy narratives of economic redistribution, scientific expertise, and national identity as a way to gain the public’s consent to grow genetically modified soybeans despite the massive environmental and social costs inSeeds of Power.
Drawing on ethnographic research with policy makers, politicians, activists, scholars, and the public in Manchester, England, Hannah Knox in Thinking Like a Climate confronts the challenges climate change poses to knowledge production and modern politics.
In Wild Things Jack Halberstam offers an alternative history of sexuality by tracing the ways in which the wild—a space located beyond normative borders of sexuality—offers sources of opposition to knowing and being that transgress Euro-American notions of the modern subject.
Saiba Varma in The Occupied Clinic, explores spaces of military and humanitarian care in Indian-controlled Kashmir—the world’s most militarized place—to examine the psychic, ontological, and political entanglements between medicine and violence.
With Cowards Don′t Make History, Joanne Rappaport examines the work of a group of Colombian social scientists led by Orlando Fals Borda, who in the 1970s developed a model of “participatory action research” in which they embedded themselves into local communities to use their research in the service of social and political organizing.
Vanessa Freije explores the causes and consequences of political scandals in Mexico from the 1960s through the 1980s in Citizens of Scandal, showing how Mexico City reporters began to denounce government corruption during this period in ways that defined the Mexican public sphere in the late twentieth century .
In Building Socialism, Christina Schwenkel analyzes the collaboration between East German and Vietnamese architects and urban planners as they attempted to transform the bombed-out industrial city of Vinh into a model socialist city.
Political theorist and anticapitalist activist Sabu Kohso uses the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster to illuminate the relationship between nuclear power, capitalism, and the nation-state in Radiation and Revolution, showing how nuclear power has become the organizing principle of the global order.
In Black Diamond Queens Maureen Mahon documents the major contributions African American women vocalists such as Big Mama Thornton, Betty Davis, Tina Turner, and Merry Clayton have made to rock and roll throughout its history.
Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan in The Globally Familiar examines how the young men of Delhi’s hip hop scene construct themselves on- and off-line and how digital platforms offer these young men the means to reimagine themselves and their city through hip hop.
In essays addressing topics ranging from cinema, feminism, and art to hip hop, urban slums, and digital technology, Sujatha Fernandes in The Cuban Hustle explores the multitudinous ways ordinary Cubans have sought to hustle, survive, and create expressive cultures in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse.
In Genetic Afterlives, Noah Tamarkin illustrates how Lemba people in South Africa give their own meanings to the results of DNA tests that substantiated their ancestral connections to Jews and employ them to manage competing claims of Jewish ethnic and religious identity, African indigeneity, and South African citizenship.
Shane Denson examines the ways in which computer-generated digital images displace and transform the traditional spatial and temporal relationships that viewers had with conventional analog forms of cinema in Discorrelated Images.
Media Primitivism by Delinda Collier finds alternative concepts of mediation in African art by closely engaging with electricity-based works since 1944.
Writing in Space, 1973-2019 gathers the writings of conceptual artist Lorraine O’Grady as edited by Aruna D’Souza, including artist statements, scripts, magazine articles, critical essays on art and culture, and interviews.
Acknowledging the difficulty for artists in the twenty-first century to effectively critique systems of power, in The Play in the System Anna Watkins Fisher theorizes parasitism—a form of resistance in which artists comply with dominant structures as a tool for practicing resistance from within.
Filled with advice from over fifty contributors, this completely revised and expanded edition of our popular book The Academic’s Handbook guides academics at every career stage, whether they are first entering the job market or negotiating post-tenure challenges of accepting leadership and administrative roles. The volume is edited by Lori A. Flores and Jocelyn H. Olcott.
With summer quickly coming to an end and the new academic year upon us, now is the perfect time to replenish your reading list! A great place to start is with our diverse array of new titles arriving this month.
Diary of a Detour is film scholar and author Lesley Stern’s memoir of living with cancer, where she chronicles the fears and daily experience of coming to grips with an incurable disease and turns to alternative obsessions and pleasures, from travel and friendships to her four chickens.
In Traffic in Asian Women, Laura Hyun Yi Kang demonstrates that the figure of “Asian women” functions as an analytic with which to understand the emergence, decline, and permutation of US power and knowledge at the nexus of capitalism, state power, global governance, and knowledge production throughout the twentieth century.
Abstract Barrios by Johana Londoño examines how the barrio has become a cultural force that has been manipulated in order to create Latinized urban landscapes that are palatable for white Americans who view concentrated areas of Latinx populations as a threat.
In Keith Haring’s Line, Ricardo Montez traces the drawn and painted line that was at the center of Keith Haring’s artistic practice, engaging with Haring’s messy relationships to race-making and racial imaginaries.
InYouth Power in Precarious Times, Melissa Brough explores how youth-centered forms of civic and cultural engagement in Medellín, Colombia, create networks of change that have the possibility to transform and democratize cities around the world.
Abigail A. Dumes offers an ethnographic exploration of the Lyme disease controversy to shed light on the relationship between contested illness and evidence-based medicine in the United States in Divided Bodies.
Examining theater, performance art, music, sports, dance, and photography, the contributors to Race and Performance after Repetition explore how theater and performance studies account for the complex relationship between race and time. The collection is edited by Soyica Diggs Colbert, Douglas A. Jones Jr., and Shane Voge.
Beyond the World’s Endby T. J. Demos explores a range of artistic, activist, and cultural practices that provide compelling and radical propositions for building a just, decolonial, and environmentally sustainable future.
The contributors to Indigenous Textual Cultures examined the ways in which indigenous peoples created textual cultures to navigate, shape, and contest empire, colonialism, and modernity. The collection is edited by Tony Ballantyne, Lachy Paterson, and Angela Wanhalla.
In Cultural Revolution and Revolutionary Culture, Alessandro Russo rethinks the history of China’s Cultural Revolution, arguing that it must be understood as a mass political experiment aimed at thoroughly reexamining the tenets of communism itself.
Animal Trafficby Rosemary-Claire Collard investigates the multibillion-dollar global exotic pet trade economy and the largely hidden processes through which exotic pets are produced and traded as lively capital.
Monica Popescu traces the development of African literature during the second half of the twentieth century in At Penpoint. She shows how the United States and the Soviet Union’s efforts to further their geopolitical and ideological goals influenced literary practices and knowledge production on the African continent.
Bolivia in the Age of Gas by Bret Gustafson examines the centrality of natural gas and oil to the making of modern Bolivia and the contradictory convergence of fossil-fueled capitalism, Indigenous politics, and revolutionary nationalism.
In this genealogy of Hindu right-wing nationalism,Hindutva as Political Monotheism, Anustup Basu connects Carl Schmitt’s notion of political theology to traditional theorems of Hindu sovereignty and nationhood, illustrating how Western and Indian theorists imagined a single Hindu political and religious people.
Today’s guest post is curated by the editors of AIDS and the Distribution of Crises, Jih-Fei Cheng, Assistant Professor of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Scripps College, Alexandra Juhasz, Alexandra Juhasz is Distinguished Professor of Film at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Nishant Shahani Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the Department of English at Washington State University. The contributors to AIDS and the Distribution of Crises 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.This post is a part of a short series. The following posts will be shared to the blog once a week over the next two weeks.
The contributions below grew out of our investments in marking and launching the publication of AIDS and the Distribution of Crises in late April. More importantly, we wanted to continue conversations that we began in the book about HIV/AIDS in light of COVID-19. We wanted to continue the format of “dispatches” in our book that allowed for more scattered and informal meditations. After contacting all the contributors to the edited volume, we planned logistics around synchronous conversations and asynchronous writings. For both formats, we asked our contributors to respond to the following questions:
How can we think of AIDS and COVID-19 through logics that are both synchronous and asynchronous, temporally distinct yet overlapping, convergent and simultaneously divergent? How do we temporalize multiple durations of multiple crises, especially given that neither AIDS nor COVID-19 have singular histories or monolithic subjects?
Since we collectively theorized the distribution of crises in our book (what Emily Bass evocatively theorized as “scattering”), how might we attend to the scattered logics of pandemics in the context of COVID-19? How do modes of social distancing magnify our experiences of being scattered and how do we find each other in its midst? In what ways does the pandemic simultaneously warrant a “scattered” lens so that we can think of COIVD-19 not just in epidemiological terms, but one that attends to crises in housing, access to water, migration and movement across borders, incarceration, racialized and gendered structures of wage labor.
How might we hold accountable structural racism in the midst of pandemics? Plans for abating the COVID-19 pandemic have called for more data to demonstrate structural needs. This means increasing tracking systems and surveillance to illustrate the higher rates and incidences of infection, sickness, and death–particularly among Black, Native, Brown, and global south communities. Simultaneously, advocacy groups are collecting data on anti-Chinese/Asian discrimination and violence. How do we leverage data intersectionally to track and address structural vulnerability and systemic violence without resorting to carceral logics, such as policing and prisons?
We have been struck by the casual invocations of phrases such as “when this is over,” “I can’t wait for things to go back to normal,” and “we have the right to work.” How might the presumptions about the temporary conditions of crises train our attention on quick social, political, or economic fixes rather than structural changes? What is the role of biomedical solutions (i.e., drugs, vaccines, plasma with COVID-19 virus antibodies, etc.) in addressing pandemic crises? How can we learn from histories and ongoing realities of HIV/AIDS in attending to these questions?
Discussions on Temporality, AIDS, and COVID-19:
Moderated by Alexandra Juhasz
Respondent: Emily Bass, Bishnupriya Ghosh, Pato Hebert, Cait McKinney, Juana Mariá Rodriguez, Julia A. Jordan-Zachary
Introduced by Nishant Shahani:
If I’m getting my dates correct, Jih-Fei, Alex, and I started working on AIDS and the Distribution of Crisesin 2016. At this initial moment, the impetus behind the book was to offer a social and political barometer of the times and the current state of AIDS, both politically and academically. Part of our motivation was to attend to the distribution of HIV and AIDS at precisely the moment when it was increasingly being framed as over or as something that belonged to the past. In the book we call this retrospective framing “a national fiction of democracy, which served the tools of US empire and global capitalism.”
Fast forward to 2020 when our book comes out last month, right as COVID-19 escalates into its moments of crises. When sharing the book with friends and colleagues, I casually commented on the strangely coincidental timing of its release: who would have thought that a book about one pandemic would come out precisely during the midst of another one? But I now think this initial casual observation is actually a bit misplaced. If, as we argued in our book, that AIDS indexes multiple and ongoing crises, if we refuse idea of AIDS and pandemics in general as having singular points of origin and finite conclusions, then the overlap of AIDS and COVID can never be reduced to the temporality of coincidence. So in today’s conversation, we want to draw on this temporal critique of first occurance and triumphant biomedical end points to think about the ongoing nature of pandemics, especially in light of COVD 19. In their own way, each of our contributors in the book grapples with what AIDS looks like if we begin with contesting the supposition that AIDS began in the early 80s among a cluster of white gay men and ended when combination therapies hit markets in the mid 90s. Rather than constituting the concluding moment of the book, several of our essays begin with the axiom that crises are not simply epidemiological, but also socially and politically produced. We of course see this with COVID 19 and its scarcity models—of hospital beds, ventilators, and protective equipment. These forms of scarcity are not simply inevitable or axiomatic, but are consequences of austerity logics that are central to the project of neoliberalism, and which produce multiple crises in the plural. Rather than simply investing hope in medical cure, perhaps we can turn to investing in diagnosing a failing globalized system and move on from there to name strategies of collective survival.
If we can understand pandemics through the lens of enduring structures such as environmental racism, settler colonialism, incarceration, militarism, and gentrification, then rather than focusing on when they begin or when they will end, we can ask how pandemics scatter and proliferate. And then more importantly, we can ask how we will respond and act. I look forward to hearing our respondents’ thoughts on some of these questions.
Discussions on Solidarity: AIDS and COVID-19:
Respondents: Marlon B. Bailey, Andrew Jolivette, Theodore (Ted) Kerr
Moderated by Jih-Fei Cheng
Introduced by Nishant Shahani:
While today’s prompts are distinct in their approach to thinking about the relation between AIDS and COVID-19, they once again build on the discussion we began last week on the limits of theorizing AIDS through definitive periodizations. The idea of pandemics as crisis moments or singular turning points can be useful, but in some senses they also can be quite reductive. On the one hand, they foreground urgency and the necessity of solidarity and action; but they also frame these modes of urgency as states of exception rather than modes of slow death or crisis ordinariness, to use Lauren Berlant’s terms, that are diffused over long durations and distributed over different geographical and geopolitical contexts. We are interested in both what precedes putative first occurences of pandemics and also in what persists in their supposed aftermaths. So in the introduction to AIDS and the Distribution of Crises, we ask, and I think this in many ways is the guiding question of our book: “How is AIDS one or many of the outcomes and expressions of crises that are made ordinary and exceptional at the same time? And how are the durations and intensities of crises experienced in specific contexts?”
In thinking about the contexts of crises distribution, one of the goals of this book was to refuse making whiteness and the global north a default referential point for an understanding of AIDS. The goal was not simply to insert ignored groups into founding narratives without questioning the centrality of those narratives in the first place and interrogating how they came to be. So for example, in decentering the global north, we were not interested in simply theorizing the global south through what Bishnupriya Ghosh calls in her contribution in the book, a “cartographic projection.” The attention to difference without essentializing difference is particularly important as we extend our conversations about AIDS into thinking about COVID-19. For example, it is not enough to simply stop at foregrounding the disproportionate impact of COVID on black and brown people which tends to naturalize predisposing conditions to race rather than attending to the environmental or structural conditions of racism. It is worth recalling the work of scholars like Dorothy Roberts who have refused biological understandings of race that end up naturalizing socially made health disparities to logics of genetic difference. We thus have to be careful that our understanding of differential impact does not shift the conversation away from limited resources about access to healthcare to one of personal responsibility so that disproportionate impact can then be explained through individual failing rather than state neglect and state-sanctioned violence.
In relation to the two prompts that Jih-Fei began with, I’d like to leave us with a few quotes from our book that begin to grapple with these questions. In a roundtable on the globalization of AIDS in our book, Theodore (Ted) Kerr, one of our respondents today, asks: “I wonder what histories could be uncovered, what actions could be taken, and what discussions could be had if we took a longer approach to AIDS history.” And I’ve been thinking a lot about these words in light of the state-sanctioned police killings these last few weeks since a longer approach to AIDS history would also incorporate an understanding of white supremacy, and of the criminalization of black and brown bodies. In the same roundtable in our book and in a similar vein, Eric Stanley suggests that “the epidemiological foundations of what we have come to know as HIV/AIDS are the haunts of conquest and chattel slavery.” If we take longer approaches to past and futures of AIDS, how might we think of these hauntings as constitutive of our current crises in terms of housing, access to clean water, sick leave, and food security among various other issues?
In this light, the invocation for a moment when the pandemic is over undercuts the persistent nature of crises. It also obscures their multiple and intersecting iterations. Just as we understand pandemics as not exceptional but constitutive of capitalism, similarly, we cannot think about black and brown death as if it were simply a glitch in the system—it is, in fact, the system’s feature and intrinsic to US democracy –or US empire: these terms are and have always been fungible. But perhaps we can use this desire for a post-COVID world as an occasion to think about and enact abolitionist critiques since pandemics be can only ever be over if we imagine and fight for the abolition of prisons and white supremacist and settler logics of policing, containment, and incarceration. It was important to us to end our book with C Riley Snorton’s piece on crisis and abolition. So I want to end by reading just one important idea from Riley’s concluding essay as yet another prompt for this conversation today or for our thinking in general:
AIDS is not the only metaphor for premature death. So is the prison, or living under occupation, or in underdevelopment, or living while Black, while trans, while undocumented, while poor. Many folks living with AIDS are also living with a combination of the aforementioned conditions. But if one believes that AIDS, and its precipitating and attendant crises, are structural and ideological, then one must consider how those very spatiotemporal formulations also forge abolitionist strategies and imaginaries.
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.