Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology

Duke University Press
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While over the past decade a number of scholars have done significant work on questions of black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered identities, this volume is the first to collect this groundbreaking work and make black queer studies visible as a developing field of study in the United States. Bringing together essays by established and emergent scholars, this collection assesses the strengths and weaknesses of prior work on race and sexuality and highlights the theoretical and political issues at stake in the nascent field of black queer studies. Including work by scholars based in English, film studies, black studies, sociology, history, political science, legal studies, cultural studies, and performance studies, the volume showcases the broadly interdisciplinary nature of the black queer studies project.

The contributors consider representations of the black queer body, black queer literature, the pedagogical implications of black queer studies, and the ways that gender and sexuality have been glossed over in black studies and race and class marginalized in queer studies. Whether exploring the closet as a racially loaded metaphor, arguing for the inclusion of diaspora studies in black queer studies, considering how the black lesbian voice that was so expressive in the 1970s and 1980s is all but inaudible today, or investigating how the social sciences have solidified racial and sexual exclusionary practices, these insightful essays signal an important and necessary expansion of queer studies.

Contributors. Bryant K. Alexander, Devon Carbado, Faedra Chatard Carpenter, Keith Clark, Cathy Cohen, Roderick A. Ferguson, Jewelle Gomez, Phillip Brian Harper, Mae G. Henderson, Sharon P. Holland, E. Patrick Johnson, Kara Keeling, Dwight A. McBride, Charles I. Nero, Marlon B. Ross, Rinaldo Walcott, Maurice O. Wallace

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About the author

E. Patrick Johnson is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Performance Studies at Northwestern University. He is the author of Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity, also published by Duke University Press

Mae G. Henderson is Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is the editor of Borders, Boundaries, and Frames: Essays in Cultural Criticism and Cultural Studies and coeditor of the five-volume Antislavery Newspapers and Periodicals: An Annotated Index of Letters, 1817–1871.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Oct 11, 2005
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9780822387220
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Semiotics & Theory
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
Social Science / LGBT Studies / Gay Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In this searing polemic, Lee Edelman outlines a radically uncompromising new ethics of queer theory. His main target is the all-pervasive figure of the child, which he reads as the linchpin of our universal politics of “reproductive futurism.” Edelman argues that the child, understood as innocence in need of protection, represents the possibility of the future against which the queer is positioned as the embodiment of a relentlessly narcissistic, antisocial, and future-negating drive. He boldly insists that the efficacy of queerness lies in its very willingness to embrace this refusal of the social and political order. In No Future, Edelman urges queers to abandon the stance of accommodation and accede to their status as figures for the force of a negativity that he links with irony, jouissance, and, ultimately, the death drive itself.

Closely engaging with literary texts, Edelman makes a compelling case for imagining Scrooge without Tiny Tim and Silas Marner without little Eppie. Looking to Alfred Hitchcock’s films, he embraces two of the director’s most notorious creations: the sadistic Leonard of North by Northwest, who steps on the hand that holds the couple precariously above the abyss, and the terrifying title figures of The Birds, with their predilection for children. Edelman enlarges the reach of contemporary psychoanalytic theory as he brings it to bear not only on works of literature and film but also on such current political flashpoints as gay marriage and gay parenting. Throwing down the theoretical gauntlet, No Future reimagines queerness with a passion certain to spark an equally impassioned debate among its readers.

In this pathbreaking work, Jasbir K. Puar argues that configurations of sexuality, race, gender, nation, class, and ethnicity are realigning in relation to contemporary forces of securitization, counterterrorism, and nationalism. She examines how liberal politics incorporate certain queer subjects into the fold of the nation-state, through developments including the legal recognition inherent in the overturning of anti-sodomy laws and the proliferation of more mainstream representation. These incorporations have shifted many queers from their construction as figures of death (via the AIDS epidemic) to subjects tied to ideas of life and productivity (gay marriage and reproductive kinship). Puar contends, however, that this tenuous inclusion of some queer subjects depends on the production of populations of Orientalized terrorist bodies. Heteronormative ideologies that the U.S. nation-state has long relied on are now accompanied by homonormative ideologies that replicate narrow racial, class, gender, and national ideals. These “homonationalisms” are deployed to distinguish upright “properly hetero,” and now “properly homo,” U.S. patriots from perversely sexualized and racialized terrorist look-a-likes—especially Sikhs, Muslims, and Arabs—who are cordoned off for detention and deportation.

Puar combines transnational feminist and queer theory, Foucauldian biopolitics, Deleuzian philosophy, and technoscience criticism, and draws from an extraordinary range of sources, including governmental texts, legal decisions, films, television, ethnographic data, queer media, and activist organizing materials and manifestos. Looking at various cultural events and phenomena, she highlights troublesome links between terrorism and sexuality: in feminist and queer responses to the Abu Ghraib photographs, in the triumphal responses to the Supreme Court’s Lawrence decision repealing anti-sodomy laws, in the measures Sikh Americans and South Asian diasporic queers take to avoid being profiled as terrorists, and in what Puar argues is a growing Islamophobia within global queer organizing.

Performance artist and scholar E. Patrick Johnson’s provocative study examines how blackness is appropriated and performed—toward widely divergent ends—both within and outside African American culture. Appropriating Blackness develops from the contention that blackness in the United States is necessarily a politicized identity—avowed and disavowed, attractive and repellent, fixed and malleable. Drawing on performance theory, queer studies, literary analysis, film criticism, and ethnographic fieldwork, Johnson describes how diverse constituencies persistently try to prescribe the boundaries of "authentic" blackness and how performance highlights the futility of such enterprises.

Johnson looks at various sites of performed blackness, including Marlon Riggs’s influential documentary Black Is . . . Black Ain’t and comedic routines by Eddie Murphy, David Alan Grier, and Damon Wayans. He analyzes nationalist writings by Amiri Baraka and Eldridge Cleaver, the vernacular of black gay culture, an oral history of his grandmother’s experience as a domestic worker in the South, gospel music as performed by a white Australian choir, and pedagogy in a performance studies classroom. By exploring the divergent aims and effects of these performances—ranging from resisting racism, sexism, and homophobia to excluding sexual dissidents from the black community—Johnson deftly analyzes the multiple significations of blackness and their myriad political implications. His reflexive account considers his own complicity, as ethnographer and teacher, in authenticating narratives of blackness.

Staging an important new conversation between performers and critics, Blacktino Queer Performance approaches the interrelations of blackness and Latinidad through a stimulating mix of theory and art. The collection contains nine performance scripts by established and emerging black and Latina/o queer playwrights and performance artists, each accompanied by an interview and critical essay conducted or written by leading scholars of black, Latina/o, and queer expressive practices. As the volume's framing device, "blacktino" grounds the specificities of black and brown social and political relations while allowing the contributors to maintain the goals of queer-of-color critique. Whether interrogating constructions of Latino masculinity, theorizing the black queer male experience, or examining black lesbian relationships, the contributors present blacktino queer performance as an artistic, critical, political, and collaborative practice. These scripts, interviews, and essays not only accentuate the value of blacktino as a reading device; they radiate the possibilities for thinking through the concepts of blacktino, queer, and performance across several disciplines. Blacktino Queer Performance reveals the inevitable flirtations, frictions, and seductions that mark the contours of any ethnoracial love affair.  
Contributors. Jossiana Arroyo, Marlon M. Bailey, Pamela Booker, Sharon Bridgforth, Jennifer Devere Brody, Cedric Brown, Bernadette Marie Calafell, Javier Cardona, E. Patrick Johnson, Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, John Keene, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, D. Soyini Madison, Jeffrey Q. McCune Jr., Andreea Micu, Charles I. Nero, Tavia Nyong'o, Paul Outlaw, Coya Paz, Charles Rice-González, Sandra L. Richards, Matt Richardson, Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, Celiany Rivera-Velázquez, Tamara Roberts, Lisa B. Thompson, Beliza Torres Narváez, Patricia Ybarra, Vershawn Ashanti Young
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