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.

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.

Animal and Posthuman Studies

Animal Studies and Posthuman Studies are relatively new fields of study in the humanities, but Duke University Press already has a rich collection of scholarship.

ddtsq_2_2_coverIf the critical import of the most recent issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, “Tranimalities,” can be narrowed to a single focal point, it is that the human/nonhuman distinction is inextricably tied to questions of gender and sexual difference. Issue editors and contributors collectively argue that to be human has meant taking a position in relation to sexual difference and becoming gendered (the English it, for example, has no personhood, as opposed to he and she), while to be forcibly ungendered or to become transgendered renders one’s humanness precarious. It can result in one’s status being moved toward the not-quite-human, the inhuman, the “mere” animal, or even toward death, toward a purportedly inanimate “gross materiality.” This issue explores the non/human in relation to transgender at an unprecedented level of detail and theoretical sophistication.

978-0-8223-5272-3_prAlso featured in the recent issue of TSQ is an interview with Mel Y. Chen. In her book Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect, Chen draws on recent debates about sexuality, race, and affect to examine how matter that is considered insensate, immobile, or deathly animates cultural lives. Toward that end, Chen investigates the blurry division between the living and the dead, or that which is beyond the human or animal. Animacies has been widely praised for its cutting-edge scholarship.

The Multispecies Salon edited by Eben Kirksey offers a new approach to writing 978-0-8223-5625-7_prethnography. Plants, animals, fungi, and microbes appear alongside humans in this singular book about natural and cultural history. Anthropologists collaborate with artists and biological scientists to illuminate how diverse organisms are entangled in political, economic, and cultural systems. The book features recipes and art alongside scholarly essays.

978-0-8223-5397-3_prCentering Animals in Latin American History, edited by Martha Few and Zeb Tortorici, brings a more historical approach to animal studies. The essays discuss topics ranging from canine baptisms, weddings, and funerals in Bourbon Mexico to imported monkeys used in medical experimentation in Puerto Rico. Some contributors examine the role of animals in colonization efforts. Others explore the relationship between animals, medicine, and health. The collection reveals how interactions between humans and other animals have significantly shaped narratives of Latin American histories and cultures.

Animal Studies meets Religious Studies in a forthcoming book from Donovan O. Schaefer, Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power. Placing affect theory in conversation with post-Darwinian evolutionary theory, Schaefer explores the extent to which nonhuman animals have the capacity to practice religion, linking human forms of religion and power through a new analysis of the chimpanzee waterfall dance as observed by Jane Goodall.

ddglq_21_2_3Queer Inhumanisms,” the most recent issue of GLQ, edited by Dana Luciano and Mel Chen, features a group of leading theorists from multiple disciplines who decenter the human in queer theory, exploring what it means to treat “the human” as simply one of many elements in a queer critical assemblage. Contributors examine the queer dimensions of recent moves to think apart from or beyond the human in affect theory, disability studies, critical race theory, animal studies, science studies, ecocriticism, and other new materialisms. Essay topics include race, fabulation, and ecology; parasitology, humans, and mosquitoes; the racialization of advocacy for pit bulls; and queer kinship in Korean films when humans become indistinguishable from weapons. The contributors argue that a nonhuman critical turn in queer theory can and should refocus the field’s founding attention to social structures of dehumanization and oppression. They find new critical energies that allow considerations of justice to operate alongside and through their questioning of the human-nonhuman boundary.

We expect to publish more titles in this exciting new field. If you have a relevant manuscript, see our submissions guidelines for books here. Submissions guidelines for journals are found on their individual detail pages.

Gerard Gaskin Exhibition Opens in Philadelphia

LegendaryAn exhibition of photographer Gerard H. Gaskin’s work opens today at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. The nearly fifty images on display are from the same body of work that comprised his 2013 book Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene. Gaskin won the 2012 Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize.

His radiant color and black-and-white photographs take us inside the culture of house balls, underground events where gay and transgender men and women, mostly African American and Latino, come together to see and be seen. “Tens across the board!” wrote Lambda Literary Review in their write-up of the book.  Writing in Edge, Kay Bourne said, “Legendary welcomes you into a fabulous world. This hall of mirrors is akin to the dazzling Emerald City of ‘some where over the rainbow’ fame.” And Leo Hsu of Fraction Magazine wrote, “Legendary honors the possibility of a truer self, performed.”

gaskin gallery 1

gaskin gallery 2 gaskin gallery 3

The show runs through August 16. If you can’t make it to the exhibition, you can still order the book at a 30% discount. Just visit our website and use coupon code E13GASK at checkout.

Jimmy Creech Celebrates Marriage Equality in NC

Adams GiftFormer Methodist minister Jimmy Creech wrote about his experience fighting for marriage equality for same-sex couples in his book Adam’s Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays in 2011. The book is new in paperback this fall. In this post he writes about his joy after a judge overturned North Carolina’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on Friday afternoon, October 10. 

Like everyone, I didn’t expect and wasn’t prepared for the US Supreme Court’s history-making announcement on Monday, October 6, that opened the door to marriage equality in North Carolina. I expected the court to make a positive ruling, but not before June 2015.

In May, Joni and Gina invited me to officiate at a wedding ceremony for them on October 18. Their plan was to be legally married in the District of Columbia on the 17th, and have a wedding ceremony the next day with their families and friends. While they badly wanted to be legally married in their home state, waiting until June 2015 was just too long a wait. When the US Supreme Court’s decision made their legal marriage in North Carolina a possibility, the three of us were excited that they might not have to wait. However, because The United Methodist Church had taken my credentials of ordination in 1999 because I violated church law by conducting a wedding for two men, someone else would have to conduct the ceremony on the 18th for it to be legal.

On Wednesday, I returned home from an errand to find a message on our answering machine. Ken and Steve, and Michael and Mike, had called to ask if I would conduct a double wedding for them on November 15, should a federal judge declare North Carolina’s ban on same-gender marriage unconstitutional. I’ve known both couples for more than twenty years.  Ken and Steve have been together for twenty-eight years and Michael and Mike, for more than twelve. I couldn’t say no to them, and I really wanted to officiate at Joni and Gina’s wedding. But, I didn’t have the credentials.

It was deeply painful to me for many reasons when my credentials were taken away in 1999. Losing the ability to celebrate weddings with loving couples was an especially painful one. Without credentials, I could no longer pronounce a couple married or sign a marriage license. I agonized about what to do now that marriage equality was about to become a reality in North Carolina. I knew I could not regain my credentials from The United Methodist Church; so, I began to search for another way to get the credentials I needed. I discovered the American Marriage Ministries, a non-denominational interfaith church based in Washington State, and was able to obtain from it the necessary credentials to legally officiate weddings.

Friday evening, Chris and I were dressed to go to Durham for a production of The Phantom of the Opera, with our daughter, Natalia. It was late afternoon. We’d waited all day, anticipating an announcement regarding marriage equality in North Carolina. We’d been waiting all week for the announcement, which now seemed wouldn’t come until the following week.  Then the news broke a little before 6:00 PM that US District Court Judge Max Cogburn had declared that the North Carolina constitutional marriage amendment, denying same-gender couples the right to marry, was unconstitutional. When the amendment passed in 2012, the pain was excruciating. With the news of Judge Cogburn’s decision, the joy was extravagant! Dressed for the opera, we went down to the Wake County Justice Center where marriage licenses were being issued to same-gender couples. Phantom would have to wait.

As we approached the Justice Center entrance, we were surprised to find Ken and Steve walking just ahead of us. They were preparing to grill hamburgers when they heard the news. Even though they planned a November wedding and had plenty of time to get their license, they couldn’t wait. The day was too historic not to be part of. They left the hamburgers and hurried to the Justice Center. When Ken and Steve saw us, they immediately asked if I’d officiate their wedding as soon as they got their license instead of waiting so it would be legal right away. I enthusiastically agreed. And, so it happened: on the steps of the Wake County Justice Center, with Chris and Lewie Wells as witnesses, Ken and Steve spoke vows of love and fidelity to each other and I pronounced them married! This was the first legal marriage I’ve been able to do since 1999. Ken and Steve still plan to have their ceremony on November 15 for their families and friends, along with Michael and Mike. Now, I look forward to officiating at the marriage of Joni and Gina on October 18.

Chris and I went to the Justice Center to witness history and to be with the same-gender loving couples who had waited so long to enjoy the rights and protections – and respect – that marriage provides. It was an extraordinary scene, filled with laughter, smiles and tears! Ms. Laura Riddick, the Wake County Register of Deeds, graciously extended the hours of her office from its usual closing time of 5:15 to 9:00 PM to accommodate the couples. Her staff was fantastic, greeting the couples with smiles and patiently guiding them through the application process with sincere kindness. One staff person left her station to bring me a tissue so I could dry the tears from my eyes as I watched Ken and Steve fill out the marriage license application.

I’ve never doubted marriage equality would come to North Carolina, as it will come eventually to all fifty states. I just didn’t expect it to come so swiftly and in such a dramatically surprising way. It was ironic, with all the religion-based arguments in support of the NC marriage amendment, that the case upon which Judge Cogburn’s decision was based was a lawsuit brought by the United Church of Christ and other clergy from around the state. They argued that the marriage amendment denied them the free exercise of religion because it denied them the ability to conduct marriage ceremonies for same-gender couples. Not only did the amendment deny the right of same-gender couples to marry in North Carolina and legal recognition to couples married in other states, the amendment made conducting same-gender marriages a punishable illegal act for clergy.

Beyond being history-making, the advent of marriage equality in North Carolina inaugurates a reality of stability, security and protection for same-gender couples heretofore unknown on a personal level. Last night, I saw same-gender couples leaving the Justice Center, walking toward the heart of Raleigh holding hands with a newfound sense of freedom, equality and dignity. Bigotry dies hard and much more work is necessary to achieve full legal equality and social acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. A big step was taken in North Carolina toward its ultimate demise on Friday, October 10, 2014. We can celebrate!

Call for Papers: Archives and Archiving, a special issue of TSQ

Ddtsq_1_3This issue of TSQ will investigate practical and theoretical dimensions of archiving transgender phenomena and will ask what constitutes “trans* archives” or “trans* archival practices.”

While transgender-related experiences have long been captured by archives to some extent, the last few decades have witnessed an increased commitment to collecting trans* materials. Consequently, sizable trans* collections can now be found in a range of institutional contexts including grassroots archives, nonprofit organizations, and university-based collections.

Given this trend, myriad practical considerations that trans* materials present for archiving warrant further attention. What should or should not be included in trans* archives? What are the best practices for acquiring, processing, preserving, and making transgender materials accessible? Given practical limitations of space and money, how do we decide what to prioritize? And who decides? What are the implications for history when archivists make such decisions? How should archives negotiate ethical concerns specific to trans* archives? What relationship—if any—do trans* materials have to broader LGBTQ collections? What cataloguing tools are available and how do they obscure, distort, or make meaning of the lived experiences of trans* people? What are the benefits and limitations of using “transgender” or “trans*” as umbrella terms in an archival context? How are archivists and archival practices changed by the challenges of dealing with trans* materials? What role can digital technologies play in collecting and accessing trans* materials, particularly born-digital materials?

These practical considerations would be incomplete without a closely related theoretical exploration of trans* archiving. How, for example, are bodies representable (or unrepresentable) through archival documents? How can embodiment itself be considered an archive of memory and feeling, a sedimentation of social practices, a living medium for the transmission of cultural forms? What power do archives have in shaping popular understandings of transgender phenomena? How are researchers affected by their encounters with archival materials? How do archives steer researchers in particular ways with metadata, organizational systems, and finding aids? Can archives help construct community and personal identity? Does digitization inherently change trans* historical artifacts?

We welcome submissions of full-length academic articles on a wide range of topics related to trans* archives and archiving. Such topics might include:

• practical and philosophical considerations for developing transgender collections independently or within broader archives
• how transgender archival materials intersect with and depart from LGBQ archival materials
• critical reflections on working in trans* archives and/or with trans* archival materials
• sex, desire, and pornographic collections
• considerations of the body within and as represented by archives
• understandings of embodiment itself as an archive of affects, memory, practices, and social forms
• capturing lived experiences with archival artifacts and ephemera
• recontextualizing historical materials within the context of the archive
• affective encounters
• ethics of historical representation
• archival temporality and considerations of time and timeliness
• the role of archivists
• institutionality of government, state, academic, non-profit, and grassroots collections
• processing and interpreting trans*-related materials
• hidden collections
• archival language practices, cataloguing, and classification
• digital technologies within archives, digital archiving, and archiving born-digital materials
• intersectional identities
• access and accessibility
• archival activism

We will also consider for publication shorter essays, opinion pieces, first-person accounts, practical advice, how-to guides, or interesting archival documents. We encourage contributions from a wide range of authors including academics, independent researchers, archivists, and activists.

Please send a complete manuscript by October 15, 2014 to tsqjournal[at]gmail[dot]com along with a brief bio including name and any institutional affiliation. The expected length for scholarly articles is 5,000 to 7,000 words, and 1,000 to 2,000 words for shorter works. All manuscripts should be prepared for anonymous peer review. For articles engaging in scholarly citation, please use the Chicago author-date citation style. Any questions should be addressed by e-mail to both guest editors for the issue: Aaron Devor (ahdevor[at]uvic[dot]ca) and K.J. Rawson (kjrawson[at]holycross[dot]edu). We plan to respond to submissions by early January 2015. Final revisions will be due by March 1, 2015.

TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly is co-edited by Paisley Currah and Susan Stryker, and published by Duke University Press, with editorial offices at the University of Arizona’s Institute for LGBT Studies. TSQ aims to be the journal of record for the interdisciplinary field of transgender studies and to promote the widest possible range of perspectives on transgender phenomena broadly defined. Every issue of TSQ is a specially themed issue that also contains regularly recurring features such as reviews, interviews, and opinion pieces.

To learn more about the journal and see calls for papers for other issues, click here. For information about subscriptions, click here.