Smoking cigarettes in my one clean undershirt. This summer feels like a sermon on pride and speed and neon. We’re indistinct as stars or skateboarders blurry under streetlights. There’s a savant that can mimic creation, from birds in a sack to bullets the size of a boy’s hand. Truckers have jokes about the Department of Transportation we’ll never understand. Our ideals of authenticity and progress stalemate over the sushi place turned Waffle House. Some say it’s all about culture with a lowercase c, while others insist it’s what I do when no one’s looking that matters (e.g., bondage lit, lots of Sheryl Crow). The truck stop up ahead glitters like a mirage. We may never be in the same time zone long enough to compromise our feelings of this place. Its moments of familiarity as fleeting as an oldies station from a passing car, before it becomes another thing altogether. Girls’ night resurfaces, but only as some antinomian treat. The murals conceal their hobo aesthetics beneath layers of persimmon and mauve. It’s not enough to say we valued risk, that we were beautiful as hunters— the ones who said tombstones arch like lovers in a field, their spines thrust in the air, their backs black with crows.
In response to recent acts of violence against Asian Americans stemming from a long history of anti-Asian sentiment in the United States, we wish to offer resources to contextualize the experiences of Asian and Pacific Americans. The articles, issues, and books in our Asian/Pacific American Cultures and Histories Syllabus discuss not only complex histories and contemporary experiences of racism and imperialism, but also community formation, solidarity between marginalized groups, and worldmaking possibilities.
All journal articles and issues in the syllabus are free to read until August 31, 2021. The introduction to each book is free, and books may be purchased at dukeupress.edu.
The Asian/Pacific American Cultures and Histories Syllabus is one of several staff-curated syllabi, with topics ranging from global immigration to racial justice to trans rights.
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.
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 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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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