Journals

Three Questions with David Eng and Jasbir Puar, Editors of “Left of Queer”

David L. Eng and Jasbir K. Puar are coeditors of the new Social Text issue “Left of Queer.” In today’s post, they describe the issue’s exploration of the peripheries of queer studies; highlight contributions to the issue by authors including Petrus Liu, Christina Hanhardt, Christina Crosby, and Janet Jakobsen; and imagine how “Left of Queer” might be adopted for use in both graduate and undergraduate courses. Pick up a copy of “Left of Queer” here or explore the table of contents, and don’t miss the virtual launch event Friday, February 12.

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.

“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?”

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.

“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.”

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.

2020 Foerster Prize Winner Announced

We’re pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 Norman Foerster Prize, awarded to the best essay of the year in American Literature: “Lost Archives, Lost Lands: Rereading New Mexico’s Imagined Environments” by Carlos Alonso Nugent, published in volume 92, issue 2. Read the essay, freely available through the end of April, here.

The prize committee offered this praise for the winning essay: “Carlos Alonso Nugent’s remarkable article addresses two generations of artists whose work stages environmental struggle in the US-Mexico borderlands. Moving between the imagined environments of the Precarious Desert of Adelina Otero-Warren and Fabiola Cabeza de Baca of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s and the Alianza Federal de Mercedes’s Pueblo Olvidado revival in the 1960s and 1970s, Nugent constellates an archive of environmental writing that is shaped by its complex relationships to colonial power and land claims. Throughout, we not only see exquisite and nuanced readings but an approach to ecology, media, and archival work that should transform how we frame accounts of the borderlands in the twentieth century.”

The honorable mention for this year’s Foerster Prize was Blake Bronson-Bartlett’s “Writing with Pencils in the Antebellum United States: Language, Instrument, Gesture” (vol. 92, issue 2; the essay is freely available through April here). The committee had this to say about the honorable mention: “Blake Bronson-Bartlett’s account of writing in the nineteenth century tells a surprising and highly original story about materiality and writing in the period. The article challenges materialist studies of nineteenth-century archives to take up scenes of writing with media-historical rigor and trains its focus on the case of the pencil as a convincing model for an analysis that can capture the interlaced relationships among instrument, language, and gesture. Bronson-Bartlett reimagines the subject of writing with a refreshing intimacy.”

Congratulations to Carlos Alonso Nugent and Blake Bronson-Bartlett!

Congratulations to our 2020 CELJ award winners!

Congratulations to Zong-qi Cai, who won the Distinguished Editor Award from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) this year, and to Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, which won Best Digital Feature! The CELJ announced the awards this past Saturday at the Modern Language Association Annual Convention.

Zong-qi Cai was named Distinguished Editor for his work on the Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture and Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature, both published by Duke University Press, as well as the Lingnan Journal of Chinese Studies.

“The global impact of Cai’s editorial work is signaled by his efforts to bridge the work of North American and Chinese sinologists. For example, he has consistently promoted and published English translations of key essays by Chinese scholars. Moreover, Cai is committed to publishing interdisciplinary work by early career and senior scholars that brings new theoretical perspectives to Chinese literature and culture. … In sum, Cai’s simultaneous work on three journals shows a deep commitment to editing,” the CELJ wrote.

Meridians was co-winner of the inaugural Best Digital Feature award for its “On the Line” component. The CELJ wrote, “The range of multimedia offered on the website—which complements the print journal—was commended for the ways in which it uses digital technology to give women of color a voice. ‘On the Line’ was cited as a particularly effective example of a print journal using digital features to complement journal content and grow audience engagement. The feature’s collaborative and interdisciplinary spirit was praised by judges, as was its commitment to reaching new readers with urgently pressing content.”

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners! Learn more about the Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture, Prism, and Meridians.

New OA Journals in 2021: Demography, liquid blackness, Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies

This spring, we are thrilled to welcome three journals to our publishing program, all of which are open access: Demography, liquid blackness: journal of aesthetics and black studies, and the Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies.

Demography, the flagship journal of the Population Association of America, will become platinum open access in 2021 as it joins Duke University Press. Since its founding in 1964, Demography has mirrored the vitality, diversity, high intellectual standard, and wide impact of population studies. It is the most cited journal in its field and reaches the membership of one of the largest professional demographic associations in the world. Libraries and institutions, learn how you can support Demography’s conversion to open access.

“In moving Demography from a traditional paid subscription model to open access, we’re thrilled that the worldwide community of population researchers will have access to its content, especially at this moment when access to reliable, peer-reviewed information is critically important,” said Dean Smith, Director of Duke University Press.

liquid blackness: journal of aesthetics and black studies carves out a place for aesthetic theory and the most radical agenda of Black studies to come together in productive ways, with the goal of attending to the aesthetic work of blackness and the political work of form. In this way, the journal develops innovative approaches to address points of convergence between the exigencies of black life and the many slippery ways in which blackness is encountered in contemporary sonic and visual culture. The journal showcases a variety of scholarly modes, including audio-visual work and experimental and traditional essays. Read an interview with founding editors Alessandra Raengo and Lauren McLeod Cramer.

The Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies is an international, multidisciplinary publication dedicated to research on pre-1945 East Asian humanities. The journal presents new research related to the Sinographic Cosmopolis/Sphere of pre-1945 East Asia, publishing both articles that stay within traditional disciplinary or regional boundaries and works that explore the commonalities and contrasts found in countries of the Sinographic Sphere. SJEAS joins our rich list of Asian studies journals, which include Archives of Asian Art, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture, the Journal of Korean Studies, Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature, and positions: asia critique.

Check out our full list of journals here.

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

Revisiting 2020: Black Lives Matter Resources

At the end of a turbulent year, we are revisiting resources pertaining to the big issues of 2020. In this post, we are re-sharing important Black Lives Matter articles, interviews, and syllabi. This is the second in a two-part series. Check out the first part here.

Political Protests and Movements of Resistance Syllabus, June 2, 2020

This staff-curated syllabus offers titles that tackle topics of political protest, resistance, and activism. Subjects include transnational social movements, spatial reclamation, student occupation, protest literature, and more. View a full list of our syllabi here.

Police Violence Syllabus, November 17, 2019

This staff-curated syllabus explores and criticizes police violence in both contemporary and historical contexts. Topics include the militancy of policing, Black Lives Matter, carceral technologies, gender, and more. View a full list of our syllabi here.

Racial Justice Syllabus, November 7, 2019

This staff-curated syllabus explores racial justice, covering topics including racial protests, justice movements, racial power, and racial justice history. View a full list of our syllabi here.

Radical History Review Resources on Policing and State Violence, June 3 2020

This list of articles curated by Radical History Review, along with RHR’s recent issue “Policing, Justice, and the Radical Imagination” (#137), reflects the journal’s stance in solidarity with those across the United States and the world who are protesting against anti-Black police violence.

Violence and Policing,” Public Culture, September 2019

This special issue of Public Culture (#89) identifies parallels between police and military power to argue that policing is more than merely the practice of the institution of the police but is the violence work of maintaining a specific social order.

After #Ferguson, After #Baltimore: The Challenge of Black Death and Black Life for Black Political Thought,” South Atlantic Quarterly, July 2017

This special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly (volume 116, issue 3) draws primarily on the US #BlackLivesMatter movement, coming to terms with the crisis in the meaning of Black politics during the post–civil rights era as evidenced in the unknown trajectories of Black protests.

Interview with liquid blackness Editors Alessandra Raengo and Lauren McLeod Cramer,” November 11, 2020

As Duke University Press welcomed liquid blackness: journal of aesthetics and black studies to its publishing program, we asked founding editors Alessandra Raengo and Lauren McLeod Cramer to discuss the open-access journal’s radical agenda and its relationship with our current climate.

Lights, Camera, Police Action!Public Culture, January 2016

This article from Public Culture #78 covers race and criminal justice in the context of recent videotaped cases of young Black men dying at the hands of police officers.

Which Black Lives Matter?: Gender, State-Sanctioned Violence, and ‘My Brother’s Keeper’,” Radical History Review, October 2016

This article from “Reconsidering Gender, Violence, and the State,” a special issue of Radical History Review (#126), explores the series of responses across the United States to the death of Trayvon Martin, including the birth of grassroots movements, Black Lives Matter, and state-sponsored initiatives, such as My Brother’s Keeper (MBK).

Revisiting 2020: COVID-19 Resources

At the end of a turbulent year, we are revisiting resources pertaining to the big issues of 2020. In this post, we are re-sharing important COVID-19 articles, interviews, guest posts, and syllabi. This is the first in a two-part series.

Dispatches on AIDS and COVID-19: Continuing Conversations from AIDS and the Distribution of Crises,” July 24, 2020

This three-part blog series curated by the editors of AIDS and the Distribution of Crises, Jih-Fei Cheng, Alexandra Juhasz, and Nishant Shahani, offers thoughts from the book’s contributors on the relationship between the HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 pandemics. Check out part two and part three.

Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law COVID-19 Articles

The Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law has published several articles that address the COVID-19 global health crisis from an array of disciplinary perspectives, and we will continue updating this page with new articles. The essays explore the pandemic as a political, social, and comparative phenomenon that is likely to redefine public health, health policy, and health care politics for years to come.

Joshua Neves on the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Anti-Chinese Racism, and the Politics of Underglobalization,” March 11, 2020

In this guest blog post, Joshua Neves discusses how racist understandings of China tie into framings of the COVID-19 pandemic. Neves is the author, most recently, of Underglobalization: Beijing’s Media Urbanism and the Chimera of Legitimacy.

Navigating the Threat of Pandemic Syllabus, March 5, 2020

This staff-curated syllabus offers books and journal articles that build knowledge and understanding of how we navigate the spread of communicable diseases. View a full list of our syllabi here.

Care in Uncertain Times Syllabus, March 25, 2020

This staff-curated syllabus offers books, issues, and articles that investigate different ways that care can bind together individuals and communities where larger institutions or governments fail to intervene. As we collectively deal with the implications of social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and a global pandemic, questions of care and self-care have become ever more important. This syllabus shows how radical care is essential to enduring precarity and to laying the groundwork for new futures. View a full list of our syllabi here.

COVID-19 and Labor History: A Guest Post by Leon Fink,” October 26, 2020

In this guest blog post, Leon Fink, editor of Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, discusses how the journal is responding to the COVID-19 crisis and what role labor history scholarship plays in conversations about the pandemic.

Always a Poster Girl for Just Causes, Mafalda Now Takes on COVID-19: A Guest Post by Isabella Cosse,” May 19, 2020

In this guest blog post, Isabella Cosse discusses the role of Mafalda, Latin America’s most famous cartoon character, in raising awareness of COVID-19 safety measures. Cosse is the author of Mafalda: A Social and Political History of Latin America’s Global Comic.

Pandemic Time: A Guest Post by Harris Solomon,” April 29, 2020

In this guest blog post, Harris Solomon, author of Metabolic Living, recommends books that explore the forms of time and temporalities that an epidemic entails.

New Titles in African Studies

Every year we look forward to meeting authors, editors, and readers in person at the ASA Annual Meeting, and we are sad to be missing out this year, although the meeting has gone virtual. We know that many of you look forward to stocking up on new titles at special discounts at our conferences, so we are pleased to extend a discount on all in-stock books and journal issues with coupon code AFSA20 until December 31, 2020.

View our African Studies catalog below for a complete list of all our newest titles in African Studies and across disciplines. You can also explore all of our African Studies books and journals on dukeupress.edu.

Editor Elizabeth Ault has a welcome message for participants in this year’s African Studies Association Annual Meeting. See below, as well, for a brief written message.

Closed captioning is available.
Editor Elizabeth Ault

Hello African studies! I’m super looking forward to joining in the virtual panels over the next few days–something I rarely get to do at the in-person conference, so a real luxury. Since we won’t be able to celebrate the release of the new books I mention in my video above in person, I’m particularly excited for the panels devoted to three recent books: Monica Popescu’s At Penpoint, Xavier Livermon’s Kwaito Bodies, and Lynn Thomas’s Beneath the Surface. I’ll be the one with the champagne flute! And of course, as the Association continues to think about the racial politics of the field and the university more broadly, following an extraordinarily painful (if occasionally hopeful!) summer of pandemic and protests, I’m looking forward to President Ato Quayson’s address on Friday evening. 

But of course I’ll miss our in-person conversations and all the generosity that y’all have shown me since I started attending the conference back in 2014. I’m really excited to be in conversation about projects that think from the continent, that consider the relationship between African studies and Black studies, that center queer and trans lives, and that work to reach across disciplinary, regional, and linguistic barriers. Please sign up for office hours to discuss your work with me here

Elizabeth mentions a number of books and series in her video, including Hannah Appel’s The Licit Life of Capitalism, Catherine Besteman’s Militarized Global Apartheid, Leslie Green’s Rock |Water | Life, Stephanie Newell’s Histories of Dirt, and Jennifer Bajorek’s Unfixed. The Theory in Forms series features multiple new books: Naked Agency by Naminata Diabate, The Wombs of Women by Françoise Vergès, Beneath the Surface by Lynn Thomas, Genetic Afterlives by Noah Tamarkin, Revolution and Disenchantment by Fadi A. Bardawil, and At Penpoint by Monica Popescu.

And don’t forget about our outstanding journals in African studies, including Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. All special issues, such as “Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Africa in Europe ⁄ Europe in Africa,” “Black British Art Histories,” and “Time out of Joint: The Queer and the Customary in Africa,” are eligible for the 50% discount using code AFSA20.

Ian Baucom’s launch event for History 4° Celsius was hosted by Ranjana Khanna and Achille Mbembe and the Forum for Scholar’s and Publics. Check out new titles in the Visual Arts of Africa and Its Diasporas series and the Religious Cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora People series. And look out for a video conversation with Delinda Collier, author of Media Primitivism, very soon!

ASA President Ato Quayson will deliver the ASA Presidential Lecture Friday, November 20, 4:00pm-5:45pm EST.

Join DUP authors for author-meets-critics sessions:
Monica Popescu, At Penpoint, Saturday, November 21, 8:00am-9:45am EST
Xavier Livermon, Kwaito Bodies, Saturday, November 21, 12:00pm-1:45pm EST
Lynn Thomas, Beneath the Surface, Saturday, November 21, 4:00pm-5:45pm EST

The ASA will commemorate the work of the late Tejumola Olaniyan with four sessions on Thursday and Friday:
Thursday, November 19, 8:00am-9:45am EST | Thursday, November 19, 10:00am-11:45am EST | Thursday, November 19, 12:00pm-1:45pm EST | Friday, November 20, 10:00am-11:45am EST

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!

Interview with liquid blackness Editors Alessandra Raengo and Lauren McLeod Cramer

In keeping with the “Raise UP” theme of University Press Week, we’re excited to spotlight the addition of liquid blackness: journal of aesthetics and black studies, an open-access journal, to our publishing program starting with its special issue “Liquidity” this spring. The journal seeks to carve out a place for aesthetic theory and the most radical agenda of Black studies to come together in productive ways. Founding editors Alessandra Raengo and Lauren McLeod Cramer recently discussed with us the creation of liquid blackness, the importance of the journal being open access, and the journal’s relationship with our current climate.

DUP: How did liquid blackness come to be?

Alessandra Raengo, founding coeditor of liquid blackness

The liquid blackness journal began informally; it emerged from the liquid blackness research group, which Alessandra began in Fall 2013 with the support and assistance of graduate students and alumni of the doctoral program in Moving Image Studies at Georgia State University. Without an institutional mandate, the group came together in response to a curatorial project we inherited: “The LA Rebellion: Creating a New Black American Cinema tour” curated from the UCLA Film and Television archive. In the summer 2013, Matthew Bernstein, chair of Film and Media Studies at Emory University, asked Alessandra if she would co-host the tour with him. The question immediately became: how does one create the right environment for this material? Beyond gathering an audience for these films, creating an “environment” meant organizing a community experience because this collection of films constitutes a type of radical cinema made with, and from, communities of color in Los Angeles. Along with free screenings and artist talks, we hosted a series of teach-ins and community conversations in historically significant sites of political gathering in Atlanta. 

At the end of the tour, Alessandra asked the students involved in this project to write about it. That first journal issue is really an expression of our commitment to two archives. First, we were thinking about giving back and giving thanks to the UCLA archival project, from which we had just benefited, by accounting for our experience of watching these works that were previously very difficult to see. At the same time, that inaugural issue was a way to begin to reflect on, and therefore assemble, a record of our own collective processes and emerging praxis. The first editorial board—Lauren McLeod Cramer, Kristin Juarez, Michele Prettyman, and Cameron Kunzelman—formed around the production of this issue. And this has been the praxis since.

From this initial gesture of “giving back” to an existing archive of Black expressive culture, while reflecting on liquid blackness as a potential emerging archive, the journal became profoundly intertwined with the group’s activities: each research project would culminate in a public event featuring a practicing artist and a call for papers. For example, the research project on Larry Clark’s Passing Through inspired a journal issue on “The Arts and Politics of the Jazz Ensemble,” the research on Arthur Jafa’s Dreams are Colder than Death prompted an issue on “Black Ontology and the Love of Blackness,” and our approach to Kahlil Joseph’s aesthetics was channeled in an issue focused on “Holding Blackness: Aesthetics of Suspension.”

Over time and through this organic approach, the journal grew into a forum for the exploration of Blackness in contemporary visual and sonic arts and popular culture at the intersection between the politics and ethics of aesthetics. “Liquidity” thus designates, among other things, a commitment to generative entanglements and to follow processes of intellectual production that are inspired by the experimental style of the jazz ensemble, which is what Fred Moten and Stefano Harney identified as a productive model for their idea of “Black study.”

DUP: How does the journal fit into our current climate?

Lauren McLeod Cramer, founding coeditor of liquid blackness

liquid blackness became a nonprofit in 2019, so over the last year we’ve had the opportunity to make explicit some of the core values that have inspired our praxis since the beginning. Our goal is to mentor the next generation of scholars of color and other scholars fully committed to the agenda of Black studies, while creating a vibrant, extended, and sustainable community. This journal is entirely committed to the aim and scope of Black studies: centering on Blackness—Black people and Black art—and critiquing Western civilization’s attachment to the project of whiteness. As we condemn the atmospheric reach of anti-Blackness, we also make the rejection of white supremacy and privilege the goal of our scholarly pursuits. 

While we are devastated by this summer’s most blatant episodes of anti-Black violence, we understand these tragedies in the context of pervasive white supremacy. Further, we refrain from expressing shock as a way to dismiss the totality of anti-Blackness. Instead, we remain focused on interrogating the political stakes of representation, to think critically about the efficacy of public statements, performances of solidarity, and analytical language that rely on the tools of oppression.

Our unwavering solidarity with voices raised in protest in the US and all over the world is inextricable from our condemnation of other expressions of violence, including the political and social neglect that caused COVID-19’s devastating effects on communities of color and academia’s persistent disregard for the true needs of these same oppressed communities. We call out white supremacy as the most denied pandemic of the modern era and insist that the work of eradicating it cannot rely on the emotional labor of the communities it has already victimized. So, at the same time we recognize these violent continuities, the journal is committed to creating space for the expression of art and scholarship that is not exclusively tethered to, and indeed may de-link from, anti-Black terror. We envision it as a place that supports art and scholarship that makes pressing historical claims for justice, recognition, and rights into new, and newly expansive, futural registers.

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