November 2011 Archives

Queer This! The Cunning Man


For this entry, I wish to share with you a passage from Terry Pratchett's I Shall Wear Midnight. In this passage, an old woman, Eskarina Smith, tells Tiffany Aching a story about the origin of the creature called "The Cunning Man."

"But for now I want you to picture a scene, more than a thousand years ago, and imagine a man, still quite young, and he is a witchfinder and a book burner and a torturer, because people older than him who are far more vile than him have told him that this is what the Great God Om wants him to be. And on this day he has found a woman who is a witch, and she is beautiful, astonishlingly beautiful, which is rather unusual among witches, at least in those days --"

"He falls in love with her, doesn't he?" Tiffany interrupted.

"Of course," said Miss Smith. "Boy meets girl, one of the greatest engines of narrative causality in the multiverse, or as some people might put it, 'It had to happen.' I would like to continue this discourse without interruptions, if you don't mind?"

"But he is going to have to kill her, isn't he?"

Miss Smith sighed. "Since you ask, not necessarily. He thinks that if he rescues her and they can get to the river, then they might have a chance. He is bewildered and confused. He has never had feelings like this before. For the first time in his life, he is really having to think for himself. There are horses not far away. There are a few guards, and some other prisoners, and the air is full of smoke because there is a pile of burning books, which is making people's eyes water."

Tiffany leaned forward in her seat, listening to the clues, trying to work out the ending in advance.

"There are some apprenticies he is training, and also some very senior members of the Omnian Church who have come to watch and bless the proceedings. And finally there are a number of people from the nearby village who are cheering very loudly because it is not them who are going to be killed, and generally they don't get much entertainment. In fact, it's pretty much another day at the office, except that the girl being tied to the stake by the apprentices has caught his eye and is now watching him very carefully, not saying a word, not even screaming a word, not yet."

"Does he have a sword?" asked Tiffany.

"Yes, he does. May I continue? Good. Now, he walks toward her. She is staring at him, not shouting, just watching, and he is thinking ... what is he thinking? He is thinking, 'Could I take on both of guards? Will the apprenticies obey me?' And then, as he gets nearer, he wonders if they could make it to the horses in all this smoke. And this is a moment eternally frozen in time. Huge events await his decision. One simple deed either way and history will be different, and you are thinking it depends on what he does next. But, you see, what he is thinking doesn't matter, because she knows who he is and what he has done, and the bad things that he has done and is famous for, and as he walks toward her, uncertain, she knows him for what he is, even if he wishes he wasn't, and she reaches with both hands smoothly through the wicker basket they've put around her to keep her upright, and grabs him, and hold him tight as the torch drops down onto the oily wood and the flames spring up. She never takes her eyes off him and never loosens her grip ..."

I find this story fascinating and brilliant. I love the part when Miss Smith says "And you are thinking it depends on what he does next." Because, in reality, it doesn't matter what he does next. Because she -- the witch -- has her own choice to make. I think it is an interesting point to make. In a story like this, when "boy meets girl," as it were, one would expect the man to have a change of heart, rescue the beautiful maiden, and they would run off together in the sunset. But that story precludes the possibility of the woman's agency -- it denies that she, too, has a part to play in this story.

I love this story. I think it's powerful and exciting. The man has a change of heart because he sees the woman he is about to kill is beautiful, but thinks nothing of the countless women he's killed before. The witch's act is an act of rejection/resistance -- she will not become the property of the man; she will not allow the story to go on without her say; she will not forgive an evil and despicable man his horrible past simply because he "falls in love" with her. The witch's last act is an act of defiance, and a bold and powerful one at that.

I wonder how this act can be read in the context of our studies of queer theory, and particularly in the context of resisting/rejecting, or perhaps even in the context of "failure" -- the witch fails to become the rescued damsel of the story, whose fate is decided by others (most notably men), and instead chooses an act of destruction when she attempts to burn the Cunning Man with her.

The vagina documentary anna was talking about


I did a few google searches and found the documentary that anna was talking about here's the site and the comments on it are pretty interesting as well..

Check it out yo! (click this :P)

Liminality: Bibliography #3


"29 Mar -- The Space In Between"
From Liminality ... The Space In Between
Charles La Shure
-Same author as "What is Liminality"
-He has lived in Korea for some time
-He writes about how Koreans say to him "Welcome to Korea," even though he's lived there for years (7 years at the time of this blog post, which was done in
-He also writes about those he's known for a while will say to him, when he exhibits "Korean traits," that he is "practically Korean now"
-Yet, he does not feel Korean, and knows himself not to be Korean, and knows he will never be Korean. However, he no longer feels fully American, either.
-He lives not within Korean society, but around it. He has a special position as a foreigner, and has a perspective of looking inside from the outside.
-He studies comparative literature there, and at first he was upset by this, thinking that his Korean prof thought him not good enough to do "true" Korean literature, but he feels now that his "liminal" status in Korea puts him in a unique position to study comparative literature
-"I will exist in the space in between the two cultures, moving back and forth between them, but never fully belonging to either."
-This is a thought that could be more fully developed. I don't think simply traveling is a liminal position, but what about someone who lives long-term in another country? Is it truly liminal? Because he acknowledges that he will never fully become Korean, so there is no intended end-point to his journey. Perhaps he is more in a "marginal" state, which is similar to liminality, except without end.
-This is again an attempt at a more non-traditional source. I am unsure of its usefulness, but I think it has at least achieved the goal of opening another avenue for analysis.
La Shure, Charles. "29 Mar -- The Space In Between." Liminality: The Space in Between. 18 October, 2005. Web. 29 November, 2011.

"Postmodern Bisexuality"
From Sexualities
Merl Storr
-The article starts off by explaining how Bisexuality is an emerging site of study. The author discusses a conference at which "Bisexuals at that conference did indeed find themselves having to defend not just the viability of bisexual politics or theory but the very existence of bisexuality as an adult sexual orientation"
-I believe it. I couldn't tell you the number of time I've heard, "I don't BELIEVE in bisexuals/bisexuality" - as if we're some kind of tooth fairy or Santa Claus that you entertain as a truth until you grow out of it and decide that you no longer believe in it
-the author suggests that the recent interest in bisexuality stems from the interest in postmodernism. She points to people making broad statemens like "Bisexuality = postmodernism embodied"
-The author discusses a book called Telling Sexual Stories, and says that there were no stories relating to bisexuality. She continues to discuss the "modern" nature of the stories in the book - meaning that these stories had a "core" or "truth" to them. The problem with Bisexuality, apparently, is that the bisexual can engage in any activity with any consenting adult (I'm paraphrasing from the article here, not making a personal statement of belief) and not reveal the "truth" or "core" of the activity or his/her identity. Instead, the author argues, stories about bisexuality would be more postmodern

"...postmodern stories are articulated around fragmentation, rather than around modernist notions of a sexual 'truth' or 'core' in or for each individual. This is common in bisexual descriptions of bisexuality, either in everyday self-descriptions as 'half heterosexual and half homosexual', 'having masculine and feminine sides' and the like (see Ault, 1997: 453-4), or in more theoretical discussions of bisexuality as fragmented, impermanent or incomplete"

"'Coming out' as bisexual, although sometimes presented as closure, is often in fact presented as a temporary resolution or a stage upon a longer journey, with more crisis and transformation yet to come (Eadie, 1997). As Frann Michel writes, 'the bisexual story destabilizes the teleological closure of linear narrative' (1996: 64)."

-The author makes a distinction between postmodern - the theory, the philosophical position - and postmodernity - the social, cultural, "lived reality" of our time (and of bisexuals, I can assume). She argues that this focus on postmodernism - focus on theory - distracts from postmodernity - that is, the actual experiences of those identifying as bisexual. The argument she seems to be making, I think, is that the current postmodern moment has essentially been appropriating the bisexual experience to bolster their theories, rather than allowing bisexuals to speak for themselves.
-I have mixed feelings about this article. Though liminality was one of its keywords, I didn't see it mentioned once in the article. I think this is a loss. So, I'll offer my own analysis
-I think bisexuality can be a liminal state. I have spoken to lesbians/gays who had temporarily identified as bisexual for various reasons. The critics of bisexuality say it's because they're too scared to come out as fully gay, or because bisexuals like to "pass" as straight. This may be the case, and I don't think it means we should condemn bisexuality - coming out is scary. Can we really blame someone for being hesitant? Sometimes they just weren't certain and wanted to experiment. Seems fine by me. However, sometimes bisexuality is an end point for people. In this case, I'm not sure it is a liminal state, b/c it's not a temporary transition. But, perhaps it can be considered "marginal" in Turner's sense. That it is still betwixt/between, defies firm, solid definition, but has no end point
-In particular, I wanted to discuss the idea that those in the liminal state are seen as dangerous, polluting agents to the rest of society. I can see this in the case of bisexuality within the queer community. Bisexuals seem to complicate the clean-cut picture of homo vs heterosexuality that mainstream gay politics focus on while trying to gain acceptance. I think they reject bisexuals and trans folk because they make things complicated and complicated is not good when you're trying to make a political campaign simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker or rubber bracelet. I think it also makes people uncomfortable - "pick a side," "bisexuals are just being greedy," or the contempt that gays/lesbians feel towards bisexuals because of their ability to pass as straight.
-I think there's more to be said about the bisexual experience and liminality, and perhaps more research should be done. But I wonder if there even is research out there to find. There is, to this day, I find, a sad lack of theorizing around bisexuality.
-I found this article by doing a Google Scholar search for Bisexuality and Liminality.
Storr, Merl. "Postmodern Bisexuality." Sexualities. 2.3 (1999): 309-325. SAGE Journals Online. Web. 29 Nov. 2011.

"'World' Traveling and Loving Perception"
From Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes
Maria Lugones
- Quote:

"... the outsider has necessarily acquired flexibility in shifting from the mainstream construction of life where she is constructed as an outsider to the other constructions of life where she is more or less "at home" (77).

-Arrogant perception: "to perceive arrogantly is to perceive that others are for oneself and to proceed to arrogate their substance to oneself" (78)
-This is a failure to identify with/to love another person
-Those who are perceived arrogantly can, in turn, perceive others arrogantly - internalized oppression. She suggests that this is what white/Anglo women do to women of color. However, the focus of this article is not to criticize white/Anglo women, but instead to offer a solution to this phenomenon. This solution being the concept of "world"-traveling
-to use a "loving eye" instead of an arrogant eye: "the loving eye is 'the eye of one who knows that to know the seen, one must consult something other than one's own will and interests and fears and imagination'." (85).
- a "world" is not a utopian theory. It cannot be an imagined place; rather, a "world" must be possible.
-can't be ANY possible, world, tho
-has to be inhabited by "flesh and blood people"
-can be the world of dominant society, or could be a world constructed by a minority population in resistance to the dominant "world"
-can be incomplete; can include a lot of people, or could include a small number of people
- The next point Lugones makes is that one can move between different "worlds" and may even occupy multiple "worlds" at the same time. Lugones writes,
"Those of us who are 'world'-travelers have the distinct experience of being different in different 'worlds' and of having the capacity to remember other 'worlds' and ourselves in them." (89)

- This shifting from being one person to being a different one depending on the "world" that one is occupying at a specific time is what Lugones means by "traveling"
- The important part of this argument is that the "world"-traveler retains a perfect memory of each different person she/he is in each different "world." Sometimes these persons embody characteristics that are contradictory to one another, which leads the "world"-traveler to have a "double image" of her-/himself.
-Playfulness: Western, masculinist playfulness that focuses on competition - anyone who tries to travel worlds with this kind of playfulness is doing so in an imperialistic/colonizing way. Instead, other kind of playfulness: defined as openness to possibility, to self-construction, to surprise. Willingness for fluidity and change
- We need to abandon arrogant perception and allow ourselves to travel to other people's "worlds" in order to see them in a full and complete way
Lugones, Maria. Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes: Theorizing Coalition Against Multiple Oppressions. Lanham, MD.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. Print.

Terry Pratchett -- A Beginner's Guide


I love Terry Pratchett dearly, and I like to spread the joy around. However, he's written around 50 books, so I think it's a good idea to give newcomers a bit of background on the books, otherwise it seems rather daunting. The majority of Pratchett's books take place in a world called Discworld, which is flat and circular, and rests on the back of four elephants, which stand on the back of A'Tuin, a giant turtle. I believe he wrote the books pretty much in chronological order, but within the whole Discworld series there are smaller story arcs, or sub-series, that follow a specific main character. I'll give you lists of books grouped together in their own story arcs, and give you suggestions on where to start. However, I haven't even read half of the books yet, so some of the books I list I won't have much to say about, since I haven't read them yet. But, regardless, I'm sure they're awesome, because Pratchett is a genius. So, without further ado, here's my list!

Tiffany Aching -- This arc follows a young girl named Tiffany Aching as she grows up and learns to be a witch. Magic has a large role in Discworld, but Discworld witchcraft is very much like traditional, historical notions of witchcraft, and involves much more being sensible and doing the things that need to be done than wand-waving and magic spells. These were written to be young adult books, but I think they still have much to offer adults. I think you'll find some interesting stuff about gender and how ideology/stories shape our understanding of the world. I think you'd enjoy these, and they're not a bad place to start getting into Discworld.
1. The Wee Free Men -- Tiffany must rescue her brother and the baron's son from the queen of the fairies, armed with good sense and a frying pan, and with the help of the six-inch tall, blue Scottish men called the Nac Mac Feegles.
2. Hat Full of Sky -- Tiffany, now studying with older witches away from home, finds herself possessed by an ancient creature who compels her to do dreadful things. She must defeat it before it destroys everything and everyone she cares about, and before it destroys her too.
3. Wintersmith -- Tiffany finds herself tangled up in the ancient story of the changing of the seasons, and is confronted with her first romance. Except, her would-be suitor is the spirit of the winter, who wants eternal winter and Tiffany for his bride.
4. I Shall Wear Midnight -- ill tidings roll across the Disc, as suddenly people begin to fear and hate witches. Tiffany must defeat a mysterious and soulless apparition to save herself and all of witch-kind.

City Watch -- these books primarily follow Sam Vimes, the captain and eventual commander of the Ankh-Morpork (a large, main city, and the setting for a lot of Discworld books) city watch. These are books for adults, unlike the Tiffany Aching books, and deal with the heavier topics, like racism/race relations, imperialism, violence, justice, and the law. Vimes is a quintessential noir anti-hero, and the other characters who are part of the watch are diverse and interesting. These are some of my favorite books in the series, and I think this is also a good place to start reading Pratchett.
1. Guards! Guards! -- A plot to overthrow the patrician of Ankh-Morpork goes horribly wrong, and suddenly a giant dragon is ravaging the city. Captain Vimes of the night watch must pull himself out of the gutter (quite literally) and whip into shape his defunct night watch to catch the conspirators and defeat the dragon.
2. Men at Arms -- A dangerous and deadly new weapon finds its way into the wrong hands. The body count rises as the weapon urges its owner to continue killing. Vimes must catch the culprit and prevent even more murders.
3. Feet of Clay -- Strange crimes are committed that seem to be linked to the golems (clay men animated by mystic words placed inside their heads) of the city. As the plot plays out, the status of golems as property comes into question, and one begins to wonder if they are alive or not. Meanwhile, the patrician is being poisoned, and Vimes must root out yet another plot aimed to bring down the ruler of the city.
4. Jingo -- A mysterious island rises from the sea exactly half way between Ankh-Morpork and Klatch. The two countries seem to be gearing up for a war, but Vimes senses that foul play is afoot. Vimes is dead-set against a war, and will arrest entire armies if he has to in order to stop it.
5. The Fifth Elephant -- Vimes is sent as a diplomat to the country of Uberwald, where the Low King of the dwarves is about to be crowned. However, an important artifact has been stolen, and Vimes is on the case, determined to root out the culprits before the throne crumbles under the Low King and chaos (along with disturbed commerce between Uberwald and Ankh-Morpork) ensues.
6. Night Watch -- Vimes finds himself thrown back in time to a period of revolution in Ankh-Morpork. He becomes drawn into the events, and has to save the day, along with teaching his younger self how to be a good copper. This book has interesting similarities (and dissimilarities) to Les Miserables.
7. Thud! -- Tensions between the dwarves and trolls of Ankh-Morpork rise as the anniversary of a historical bloody battle between the races approaches. A suspicious murder takes place, and while Vimes is on the case, a mysterious, quasi-demonic entity seeks out Vimes and attempts to use him as an agent of revenge. Vimes must solve the crime and overcome his own inner darkness at the same time.
8. Snuff -- Vimes finally takes a vacation to his wife's country estate. But as soon as he gets there, his old copper instincts kick in and he knows something isn't right. A sordid plot unfolds involving goblins, murder, and high-speed riverboat chases!

Moist Von Lipwig -- These books follow a character with a rather unfortunate name. He's a con man and a classic trickster, but is set on, if not the correct path, then on a path that is most useful to the patrician of Ankh-Morpork. These books have some anti-corporate themes, and the second book has interesting things to say about money and capitalism.
1. Going Postal -- Moist Von Lipwig is to be executed for his white-collar crimes, but finds himself instead being offered the job of rehabilitating the defunct post office, which is no task for the faint of heart. However, as he does so, he finds powerful enemies in the large business of semaphore tower (basically visual morse code using squares of black and white) business.
2. Making Money -- Moist grows bored with the post office, which now runs smoothly. So, to keep him busy and sharp, the patrician of Ankh-Morpork gives him the task of overhauling the currency system. Boldly, he begins the transition from the gold standard to paper money -- but not without making plenty of enemies along the way.
3. Raising Taxes -- I've not read this book yet, but I'm sure it's just as good as the two before it.

Death/Susan Sto Helit -- A common character in the Discworld is Death. As in, black robe, skeletal Death with scythe. He also happens to adopt a daughter, and that daughter has a daughter, named Susan. Susan manages to "inherit" some of her adopted grandfather's talents, much to her chagrin, since because Death is constantly having existential crises, she is often called upon to fill his role. Also, interesting fact about Death: he appears in every Discworld novel except The Wee Free Men.
1. Mort -- Death hires an apprentice, Mort, who falls in love with Death's adopted daughter and begins to meddle in things he really ought not to meddle in -- with humorous results, of course.
2. Reaper Man -- Death retires and experiences something he's never experienced before: life. Meanwhile, strange things are afoot in Ankh-Morpork, where nothing seems to be dying like it should. This book has interesting themes about industrialization/urbanization.
3. Soul Music -- This book is about sex, drugs, and rock and roll! Well, it's about rock and roll, but one of three isn't too bad. Death has an existential crisis and abandons his post, pulling an unsuspecting Susan in to cover for him. Meanwhile, this strange new form of music is taking the country by storm.
4. Hogfather -- An assassin is hired to kill the Hogfather (the Discworld equivalent of Santa Claus), and through a twisty plan, he begins to succeed. However, as Death tells Susan, this means that tomorrow the sun won't rise. Susan must investigate and stop the mad assassin from ending the world.
5. Thief of Time -- A clockmaker is hired by a mysterious lady to build the perfect clock. What he doesn't know is that this will stop time forever and destroy history. Susan must work together with a young man who is more than he seems, and may be a little bit like her (i.e., not quite human).

Stand Alone Novels -- some books are not part of a story arc and can be read on their own.
1. The Truth -- The printing press is invented, and with it, the newspaper. William de Worde -- a young man who is good with words and is devoted to the Truth -- stumbles across an insidious plot to "un-elect" the patrician of Ankh-Morpork. He is determined, with a little bit of investigative journalism, to uncover the truth.
2. Small Gods -- Brutha, a slow and thoughtful young man, finds himself the prophet of his god, Om. However, he finds Om in the shape of a tortoise, and lacking much of his power. Brutha must re-instill people's faith in Om (for, at this point, the people believe in the institution of the Omnian church, and not Om himself), and stop the Omnian church from going down the wrong path of torture, war, and inquisition before it's too late.
3. Monstrous Regiment -- A twist on the classic "Mulan story." A woman dresses as a man to join the army so she can find her missing brother. She soon finds out, however, that the regiment she joins is entirely made up of women dressed as men.
4. Moving Pictures -- I haven't read this one, but I do know it's about movies.
5. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents -- alas, another one I haven't read.
6. Pyramids -- another one that I have not, unfortunately, read. It's about ancient "Egyptian" culture, as far as I know.

Witches -- this arc follows a group of witches and their various adventures in the world. I've only read a couple of them, so I'll mostly just list them for you.
1. Equal Rites -- A wizard is born, but the only problem is that she's a girl. There have never been any female wizards before, and as she enters the Unseen University (the wizard university in Ankh-Morpork), trouble is bound to arise.
2. Wyrd Sisters -- A rather humorous parody of Macbeth.
3. Witches Abroad -- Esme Weatherwax is called abroad and takes her sister witches, Magrat Garlick and Gytha Ogg, to defeat the mysterious, evil fairy godmother in the far-off country of Genua.
4. Lords and Ladies
5. Maskerade -- I hear this one draws a lot from Phantom of the Opera.
6. Carpe Jugulum -- deals with vampires

Wizards -- this arc follows a particularly inept wizard named Rincewind. That's all I can really say about it, since I haven't read any of these books. I know that some of them are his very early works, and I've heard the opinion that they're not as good as his later works. But I've also heard that some people really like them. I really couldn't say myself. I'll just have to read them.
1. The Color of Magic
2. The Light Fantastic
3. Sourcery
4. Eric
5. Interesting Times
6. The Last Continent
7. The Last Hero
8. Unseen Academicals

Pratchett and Neil Gaiman -- These two authors with very different styles join forces to write a hilarious book. It's not a Discworld novel, but still definitely worth a look.
Good Omens -- The time of the coming of the Antichrist is upon us, much to the dismay of demon Crowley and Angel Azraphael, who have both come to enjoy their lives on Earth. The two join forces to subvert the plans of both God and Satan, with, of course, hilarious results.

Well, that's all of them that I know of. This link is to a visual representation of the reading order, but it doesn't have all the books as it's not completely up-to-date. I may also be missing some of the books, but if you really want to know more, a quick Google search should find you some more information. His Wikipedia page is good, and there is actually a Wiki just for Discworld.


Day Twenty-two: November 29


Today we are discussing Karma R. Chávez's "Spatializing Gender Performativity: Ecstasy and Possibility for Livable Life in the Tragic Case of Victoria Arellano"

Want to know more? Check out these sources....

....on critiques of using trans bodies as foundation for queer theorizing:

...on cruel and unusual treatment of trans folk in prison:
Cruel and Unusual (part 1 of 7 available on youtube and at Walter Library)

...on Gwen Araujo (another transwoman who was murdered--mentioned in a comment here)

A few terms:
  • ecstasy as beside precarious/ panic
  • gender performativity
  • agency
  • subversion
  • ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Great event tonight, open to everyone


Just received an email about this great event:

Monday, November 28th
5:00 p.m.
211 Coffman Memorial Union

We are having an event called Women of Color in the Academia this coming Monday November 28th at 5:00P.M. in Coffman Memorial Union in room 211. There will be a small panel of women that will talk about their experiences at the University of Minnesota. We are featuring Rose Brewer and Reina Rodriguez. This event is FREE and OPEN to the public; therefore it does not matter what race, gender, sexuality and nationality you are from because EVERYONE IS WELCOME TO ATTEND THIS FREE EVENT!!!! So, please help us spread the word about this event. Also, dinner will be provided!

Death of Marriage the Path to Equality


Brilliant article by Dr Meagan Tyler (Anna, we can share this for resist/reject perhaps? =) )

Nobody Passes DE


Reading essays from the anthology That's Revolting: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity alongside JJ Halberstam's The Queer Art of Failure allows for the problematization of conceptions of 'queer' as inherently radical (by this I am defining the term radical as referring to root cause of social inequity). If one is to take failure as an inherent art of "queerness", what becomes of those who do not have the luxury/privilege to fail? Theorizing from a space of seemingly unchecked race and class privilege, JJ Halberstam hardly seems to engage with material implications of failure within neoliberalist structures that require the success of some at the failure of many. Erased is the link between failure and violence and violence, where the material implications of violence exist to the extent of bodily harm, homelessness, poverty, deportation and starvation, access to healthcare and even death. This denies the power of institutional and structural violence through implying a degree of agency and autonomy that many may not have while romanticizing the notion of what it means to fail in multiple contexts. Who is absent from a definition of 'queer' subjectivity that assumes a certain degree of privilege in order for one to be 'queer'? What subjects exist in contradiction to "queer" (i.e. queer's abject, an impossibility to queer or be queer)? How is capitalism, dominance and hegemony rearticulated in a 'queer'/not 'queer' dichotomy that values certain identities and means of resistance over others?
In their essay "The End of Genderqueer", Rocko Bulldagger presents limitations of the terms 'queer' and 'genderqueer'. Some questions one could pose of genderqueer from Bulldagger's reading are: Is genderqueer a politics of exclusion? Who is absent from conversations that produce 'queer' discourse and understandings of gender and sexuality? What is the radical potential of an exclusively defined community that divides people into camps of those who get 'queer' and those who do not?
Many in Bulldagger's community define 'butch' identities as archaic. According to Bulldagger, many genderqueer folk read butch as bogged down with "too much baggage", implying that 'butch' embodies masculinity in a way that is not queer. This reading of butch is homogenizing and reeks of ageism and classism, as it discounts the validity of older generations experiences of queerness while ignoring the working-class roots many butch-identified folk come from (Stone Butch Blues anyone?). While Bulldagger does not implicitly state this, I do wonder if this dismissal of 'butch' identities subconsciously seeks to establish 'queer' as something modern that was created from the scraps of inactive queer subjectivities found in previous generations. Many LGBT theorists of color suggest that the way to the future is paved by ones relationship to their histories.
Bulldagger also questions the absence of queer people of color, cisgender femmes, trans woman and folks who have "transitioned all the way, however [one] define[s] that today" (That's Revolting pg). First discussing the absence of femininity, this is interesting to me as it seemingly rearticulates heteronormative misogyny albeit in a slightly different context. Referencing arguments presented by Julia Serrano in her book, Whipping Girl, we may have reached a point where it is out of fashion to openly discriminate against someone who would identify as female; this is altogether different from saying we have reached a place where masculinity and femininity are equally valued. This is arguably the case for heteronormative and 'queer' communities alike). By Serrano's argument, many in 'queer' communities read those who actively choose femininity as their gender identity and expression as compliant in their own oppression. This naturalizes a hierarchical relationship between masculinity and femininity, where masculinity is more desirable.
Classed assumptions define femininity as inextricably linked to a politics of consumption. Identification as femme and expressions of femininity by this interpretation, exist solely through accumulation of material possessions--clothing, makeup, and perfume--rather than something innate to one's being. While this may play out differently in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans communities, it seemingly does exist as a link between many of those under the umbrella term of "queer". Class informs how one is to do and be 'queer' (Butler on performance and performativity).
Similar to class, race also informs how one is to do and be 'queer'. Cathy J. Cohen and many other LGBT people of color have expressed hesitation in readily adopting the term 'queer', often because of the relationship between queerness and unmarked whiteness (Alan Bérubé How Queer Stays White and What Kind of White it Stays is a good read for anyone who wants to learn more about this). Universalizing 'queer' is both patronizing and colonizing as it privileges the experiences of 'queer' identified white folk while eclipsing the narratives of LGBT people of color.

Homonationalism FINALE


In this third installation I am seeking to apply homonationalism to international contexts. While these sources don't specifically engage with the term homonationalism, they argue for similar mobilization of queer/ gay identity. The first two sources deal with Israel and pink-washing while the third source deals with Zimbabwe.

First Source- Queerness as Europeanness
a. "Queerness as Europeaness: Immigration, Orientalist Visions, and Racialized Encounters in Israel/ Palestine"
b. Adi Kuntsman
c. This article begins by arguing that Israel has become an apartheid state wrapped up in European colonial visions. Non- Jewish Palestians have been driven off the land without the ability to return while Israel becomes a haven for Jews. Beyond this, the article argues that queerness is not always transgressive and within the context of Israel, is complicit with violence. Similar to Puar, this article also invokes the image of the terrorist. Palestinians are excluded from national narratives and belonging similar to the ways in which Puar argues the Muslim and immigrant are excluded from the US. Queers operate within the same economy of scarcity in Israel as it does in the US. Palestinians are othered for queers to be accepted into national belonging. The figure of the terrorist and the Palestinian also becomes subject to Orientalist knowledge production that sexualizes and perverses the Other. The literal land and the intangible community and belonging of Israel are founded on the exclusion of Palestinians. When queers continue to operate in that space, they are complicit with that othering.
d. This paper utilizes similar logics as Puar's original writings while pushing it further to apply to a new context as well as expose the Foucauldian arguments. More general theories about the perversity and repression of the Other could be useful here.
e. I had previously read this article and it was my only previous interaction with a queer analysis of Israel.
f. Kuntsman, Adi. "Queerness as Europeanness: Immigration, Orientialist Visions and Racialized Encounters in Israel/Palestine." Dark Matter (2008).

Second Source- Pinkwashing
a. Israel's Gay Propaganda War
b. Jasbir Puar
c. This article discusses the tension between Israel's increasingly repressive policies towards Palestinians while at the same time attempting to portray itself as a benign democracy. Gay people and "pinkwashing" are integral to that process. Pinkwashing is the intentional process of Israel to portray itself as gay friendly to the international community. "To be gay friendly is to be modern, cosmopolitan, developed, first-world, global north, and most significantly, democratic." Pinkwashing allows Israel access to the First World while ignoring ongoing atrocities. Israel is portrayed as civilized while Palestinians are homophobic. Gays and lesbians become complicit with Israel's violence towards Palestine.
d. Within this article Puar mentions several activist groups within Israel and outside of it that are doing interesting work to combat pinkwashing.
e. I was googling Puar and Israel because I knew she had written on the term but I was not familiar with it.
f. Puar, Jasbir. "Israel's Gay Propaganda War." The Guardian [Manchester, England] 1 July 2010.

Third Source- Homonationalism in Zimbabwe
a. Between the White Man's Burden and the White Man's Disease: Tracking Lesbian and gay Human Rights in Southern Africa Note: you have to use your x500 to access it.
b. Neville Hoad
c. This article argues that rights and inclusion within the Zimbabwean nationalist narrative only furthers its violence and exclusion and remains within the nationalist narrative. Instead of gay activism being on the terms of Mugabe, it should focus on criticizing the logic of nationalism itself. Discourses of rights, nationalism, and gay identity circulate transnationally and ignoring any aspect of that would be foolish. There is no authentic African that can be discovered and arguing for inclusion within that category is complicit in its other areas of exclusion beyond gays. Gay rights threaten the cultural authenticity of a postcolonial nation-state because of their claims to modernity. Since claims to authenticity will be impossible given that it is a construction, activism needs to be rooted in questioning the use of nationalism and its violence beyond just queer bodies.
d. This article applies homonationalism to a country where it is rarely used and inspires further thinking about the colonial encounter.
e. I found this source by doing research for my thesis which also centers around the dangers of homonationalism.
f. Hoad, Neville. "Between the White Man's Burden and the White Man's Disease: Tracking Lesbian and Gay Human Rights in Southern Africa." GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 5.4 (1999): 559-84.

Josina Manu's piece about Occupy Wallstreet


Hay ya'll, my housemate Josina wrote something I thought would be of interest.

Day Twenty-one: November 17


chapter three: The Queer Art of Failure

failure goes hand in hand with capitalism

history of pessimism is a tale of: 

  • anti-capitalist queer struggle
  • anti-colonial struggle
  • refusal of legibility
  • art of unbecoming

impossible     improbable unlikely unremarkable

weapons of the weak: STALLING recategorize what looks like inaction, passivity, lack of resistance (88)

Trainspotting and unqueer failure: failure leads to while male rage directed against women/people of color 

OUTLINE OF REST OF CH: An examination of what happens when failure is productively linked to racial awareness, anticolonial struggle, gender variance, and different formulations of the temporality of success (92). 

  1. Moffat and 4th Place: The Art of Losing
  2. The L Word, the Anti-Aesthetic of the Lesbian, and the butch lesbian as loser/failure
  3. Darkness, Shadows, Failure-as-style, Limits, Hopelessness, Punk politics, Fucking shit up, and the Queer Art of Failure
  4. Children, Queer Fairy Tales, Shrek/Babe/Chicken Run/Finding Nemo, and Bringing down the winner and discovering our inner dweeb

oneDarkness and a Queer This by Scott on The Queer Art of Failure

twoPunk Politics: God Save the Queen, The Sex Pistols

A rallying cry of England's dispossessed?
A snarling rejection of the tradition of the monarchy and national investment in it?

"No future for Edelman...seems to mean (too) much about Lacan...and not enough about the powerful negativity of punk politics" (108).

Negativity may be anti-politics, but it should not register as a-political.

threeHalberstam, expanding of the archive of negative affects and "fucking shit-up"


four: A queer archive? Inspired by JH's call to discover our inner dweeb...

The concept of practicing failure perhaps prompts us to discover our inner dweeb, to be underachievers, to fall short, to get distracted, to take a detour, to find a limit, to lose our way, to forget, to avoid mastery..." (121). 

The Remix/Revisit and Final Wrap-up Assignments


ONE Here's some information about the Remix/Redux/Revisit blog entry: The purpose of this entry is to revisit an entry, reading, or topic from early in the semester and to critically reflect on how your perspective has shifted (or been reinforced) during the course of the semester. This assignment should be posted by dec 7. 

Here's how:

  • Pick a reading, one of your past entries or a one of my class summaries from the first half of the semester (up until 10/25).
  • Write up a 1-2 sentence summary of your thoughts from that time.Then, critically reflect on how your thinking about the reading, the topic of your entry, or the topic of that class discussion has shifted (or how it has stayed the same--or been reinforced).
As part of this critical reflection, make sure to offer up some of your thoughts on whether or not it is helpful to revisit past entries--is this a benefit of blogging? Is it helpful/not helpful to have access to all your/our past ideas? Are my class summaries helpful in clarifying the concepts (or complicating them in productive ways)?

TWO And here's some information about the Final Wrap-Up:


1. A (roughly) 250-300 word description/discussion of your chosen term. In this discussion, you should provide your own understanding of the term and why it is important for queering theory. This part of your reflection essay/entry should draw upon at least 3 sources (from our readings/your first presentation/annotated bibliographies). I would encourage you to draw upon your own previous entries and link to them.

2. A (roughly) 250-300 word reflection on the question: What is queering? In answering this question you are not required to provide THE definition of queering (which is not possible), but to reflect on what you think queering is. You should draw upon the readings, our discussions, our blog, outside sources, and your own ideas. I would especially encourage you to reference other students' posts (by discussing and linking to them).

3. A (roughly) 350-400 word reflection on the process of tracking your term. This reflection should occur in two ways: 1. A reflection on the process of tracking your term and 2. A reflection on the process of using/participating in the blog and on twitter. In composing your response, answer the following questions:

• What did you learn about queering theory and your term through this process?
• How was the process of writing on the blog and using twitter helpful (or not helpful)?
• What would you like to tell future students about the blog/twitter experience (advice, etc)?
• What connections can you draw between queering theory and blogging/tweeting? How did (or didn't) our blog/twiiter feed allow for a queer space or enable us to engage in practices of queering?

This essay-entry is due day of your presentation, dec 8 or dec 13. Sign-up for your day, by commenting on this blog post. We can have up to 5 people on either day.

PRESENTATION: You will sign up to do a 12-15 presentation on your blog post. You should highlight some key features of your post. Make sure to keep your comments brief; 12-15 minutes isn't that long!

Waziyatawin Speaks to Occupy Oakland


Here is a clip of local social justice and indigenous sovereignty activist, Waziyatawin, speaking at Occupy Oakland So fierce.

Just something interesting to share


This link has been floating around in my facebook and I thought I should share to the class because I just think that this is kinda interesting and funny :)

Queery on being cool, relevant and "cute"


Today in class, I raised the question of whether or not Halberstam's efforts to be accessible sometime lead to trying to be cool and hip. I mentioned some passage that we had read that discussed the desire for queer as always needing to be relevant and transgressive in cool/hip ways. Here's the quotation I was thinking of from Nikki Sullivan's "Queer: A Question of Being or a Question of Doing?"

Screen shot 2011-11-15 at 9.49.37 PM.png

Also, after class, I was talking with Nyssa and Scott (and learning some more new lingo to add to "funsies" and "rage-y"....what was the term again, and I mentioned an exchange on HASTAC and queer and feminist media spaces in which JHalberstam reflects on being cute. Can we read "cuteness" beside/against/through stupidity? If so, what value does it have for Halberstam? For queering theory and university spaces/logics/discourses?

2nd annotated bibliography


Now that i have defined what gender means and gone into a more general view of gender focusing on news stories describing how trans and/or gay/lesbian people have been treated i want to for my second bibliography look more closely at the pronouns used to describe transgender people while also looking at the process of transitioning and how transgender people are treated by others.

My fourth source
a. Gender Outlaw: on men, women, and the rest of us
b. by: Kate Bornstein
c. Bornstein goes into detail of her own journey in transitioning from a boy to a girl.
In chapter 4 she goes into detail about gender assignment, gender identity, gender roles, and gender attribution. I want to examine the discussion pertaining to gender assignment. Bornstein suggests that gender is a class. She goes into detail claiming that gender is a system classification and by calling gender this we can break apart the system and examine the different components it possesses. Gender assignment as bornstein suggests comes from the idea of when the culture claims "this is what you are" (22). "In our culture once you are assigned a gender, thats what you are; and for the most part, its doctors who dole out the gender assignments, which shows how emphatically gender has been medicalized" (22). In this discussion Bornstein emphasizes the fact that gender has been medicalized, which suggests that society is not yet ready to have people who do not fit into a category as either female or male. My question is why aren't they ready? Who decides what is "normal"?
d. For further research i suggest using Kate Bornstein's Gender Outlaws as a way to raise questions among the community.
e. I found this source as recommended by Scott by using google
f. Kate Bornstein. " Gender Outlaw: On men, Women, and the Rest of Us". New York, NY, 1994. Print.

My fifth source
a. Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink Or Blue
b. by: Leslie Feinberg
c. Feinberg discusses within this book how transgender people are treated within society, such as by the police. She goes into detail claiming a trans- liberation. During this liberation there needs to be conversations among communities spreading the word about how transgender people are treated. Feinberg claims, "Transliberation has meaning for you- no matter how you define or express your sex or your gender" (5). She also discusses the idea of the pink-blue dogma. Feinberg suggests that the pink-blue dogma assumes that biology steers our social destiny. According to the pink-blue dogma If you are born a girl you must wear pink, if you are born a boy you must wear blue. Within this dichotomy how can we stay away from things like this that portray people a certain way? How can we change this behavior?
d. For future research it would be a good idea to elaborate more on the pink-blue dogma and talk about what happens to babies who are born "differently", babies that don't fit in with this? How can we make sure that there isn't just one way society thinks about sex?
f. Leslie Feinberg. "Trans liberation beyond Pink or Blue." Boston, Massachusetts, 1998. Print.

My sixth source
a. Mizzou Climate: Transgender at MU
b. by Nassim Benchaabane
c. Within this article Benchaabane explores the ways in which MU (missouri University) supports transgender people. At MU they have a LGBTQ Resource Center that promotes and protects transgender people. The resources coordinator scruby Scrubble says, "Gender is set by society. In many states, Missouri included, there is nothing that specifically forbids discrimination against transgender people" (1). Interviewed by the author is Triangle Coalition President Emily Colvin. She is a transgender student. "Colvin transitioned from the male gender to the female gender, which she identifies with. Colvin said many transgender people conform heavily to extreme stereotypes of either gender, but she is more of a tomboy."
In this particular article we can see that the author respectively refers to Colvin as she. I'm wondering that because in this community transgender people are respected more other people that are not transgender are more respectful towards their feelings, while out "in the real world" where transgender people are not as respected, people who are not transgender may not care and refer to them by a pronoun(s) that are not correct. How can we as a society promote and change the ways in which transgender people are treated in "the real world"? Maybe because of this publicity more people will be willing and accepting of the lifestyles of transgender people.
The author also expresses, "Struble said the transgender community experiences high rates of violence and transgender students face harassment in schools. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality the transgender community has higher rates of suicide than the general population" (1). The question is how can we change this? Colvin the transgender student says, "My hope is the following generation will never have to email professors to request the use of their preferred name or have to fear employment discrimination," she said(1). Because of Colvin's involvement within changing the MU community she has i believe prompted a way for us as a society to encourage others to adhere to the feelings/requests of the transgender community around the country.
d. For future research we as a community need to encourage people and support people like Emily Colvin. In the future we should go out into several communities promoting rights of transgender people. In order to do this we must get ahold of someone who is important in our community.
f. Nassim Benchaabane. "Mizzou Climate: transgender at MU." The Maneater student Newspaper. 2011.

Day Twenty: November 15


NOTES FOR JHALBERSTAM'S The Queer Art of Failure

see pdf of full notes (with embedded tweets) here.

Introduction: Low Theory

sources of knowledge? Sponge Bob Square Pants

What is the alternative to cynical recognition on the one hand and naive optimism on the other?

What's at stake with this question? hope future anti-social thesis utopia see MLA Forum on Anti-social thesis in Queer Theory

This book loses the idealism of hope in order to gain wisdom and a new, spongy relation to life, culture, knowledge and pleasure (2). 

live life otherwise

Low theory tries to locate all of the in-between spaces that save us from being snared by the hooks of hegemony and speared by the seductions of the gift shop (2). 

standing outside of success: failure = not succeeding, not achieving success

goal = dismantling logic of Success/Failure

re-envisioning failure (and losing, forgetting, unmaking, undoing, unbecoming, not knowing) as offering more creative ways of being parallels with Luhmann and ignorance, Butler and undoing

Failure's rewards (3)? 

  • escape punishing norms that discipline behavior/manage development
  • preserves some of the wondrous anarchy of childhood
  • disturbs "clean" boundary between childhood/adulthood, winner/loser
  • allows us to use negative effects (disappointment, disillusionment, despair) to poke holes in toxic positivity and myth of power of positive thinking and positivity/personal responsibility see Ehrenreich and RSAnimate's "Smile or Die"

Is failure necessarily negative? Does it demand that we embrace and value our negative, "whiny," grouchy attitudes?

Little Miss Sunshine and a new kind of optimism: not based on positive thinking or the bright side at all costs, but a little ray of sunshine that produces shade and light in equal measure (5).


not being taken seriously, lack of rigor, frivolous, promiscuous, irrelevant (7).

What should count as "serious" and rigorous academic work? 

  • Benjamin: strolling down the paths, going the wrong way, not knowing exactly which way to go
  • Disciplinary knowledge, the sciences and rogue intellectuals

Do we really want to shore up the ragged boundaries of our shared interests and intellectual commitments, or might we rather take this opportunity to rethink the project of learning and thinking altogether (7)? Is this possible in academic spaces, especially at the U?

Let me explain how universities (and by implication high schools) squash rather than promote quirky and original thought (7). 

  • disciplines and being disciplined
  • normalization, routines, convention, tradition, regularity 
  • produces experts and administrative forms of governance
  • disciplines qualify/disqualify, legitimate/delegitimate, reward/punish; reproduce themselves and inhibit dissent (10)

crossroads between university-as-corporation and university-as-new-public-sphere

need for subversive intellectuals not more critical, professionalized intellectuals (8)

What kind of intellectuals/thinkers does the University produce? What could it produce? How?

Illegibility may in fact be one way of escaping the political manipulation to which all university fields and disciplines are subject (10). How so? What would this look like? What impact does illegibility have on the ability to survive in the academy? How do those forms get evaluated/graded?

Foucault and subjugated knowledges

steal from the university (11)

adding to the 7 theses (including, worry about university, refuse professionalization, forge collectivity, retreat to external world):

  • resist mastery (11-12)
  • privilege the naive or nonsensical
  • suspect memorialization

responses to colonial knowledge formations:

  • violent (Fanon) 
  • learns dominant system and undermines from within
  • negative...subject refuses knowledge, refuses to be knowing subject (14)

JH's book works with violent and negative responses


  • accessible (17)
  • theoretical model that flies below the radar,  assembled from eccentric texts and examples (17)
  • theory as goal oriented

practicing "open"theory. OPEN =

JH on hegemony (from Gramsci and Hall): "the multilayered system by which a dominant group achieves power not through coercion but through the production of an interlocking system of ideas which persuades people of the rightness of any given set of often contradictory ideas and perspectives" (17). 

traditional vs. organic intellectual

Low theory = counterhegemonic form of theorizing, the theorization of alternatives within an undisciplined zone of knowledge production (18). 

Pirate Cultures

Linebaugh's/Rediker's The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors,Slaves, Commoners, and The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic and the history of alternative political formations

flesh out alternatives: how to live, how to think about time/space, how to inhabit space with others, how to spend time separate from the logic of work (19)

Animated films deliver queer/socialist messages:

  • work together
  • revel in difference
  • fight exploitation
  • decode ideology
  • invest in resistance
"the art of getting lost?"


goals of book: 

  1. "I hold on to what have been characterized as childish and immature notions of possibility and look for alternatives in the form of what Foucault calls "subjugated knowledge" across the culture: in subcultures, countercultures, and even popular cultures."
  2. Turn the meaning of failure in a different direction, away from happy/productive failure to the "dark heart of the negativity that failure conjures"--modes of unbecoming
  3. Early chapters (1-3) chart the meaning of failure
  4. Later chapters (4-6) allow for fact that failure is also unbeing

It is a book about failing well, failing often, and learning how to fail better (24). Reminds me of JB's passage: "Trouble is inevitable, and the task, how best to make it, how best to be in it." 

JHalb hopes this book is accessible to a wider audience. What do you think? How do we put Halberstam's desire for intelligibility/accessibility beside our discussion of Butler's value of difficult writing?

Master the art of getting and staying lost (25).

chapter one: Animating Revolt and Revolting Animation

explain the title:  A cynical reading of the world of animation will always return to the notion that difficult topics are raised and contained in children's films precisely so that they do not have to be discussed elsewhere and also so that the politics of rebellion can be cast as immature, pre-Oedipal, childish, foolish, fantastical, and rooted in a commitment to failure. But a more dynamic and radical engagement with animation understands that the rebellion is ongoing and that the new technologies of children's fantasy do much more than produce revolting animation. They also offer us the real and compelling possibilities of animating revolt (52). 

connection to failure: 

  • Animated films for children revel in the domain of failure
  • Childhood is a long lesson in humility, awkwardness, limitation, "growing sideways"
  • Animated films address the disorderly child

PIXARVOLT: new genre of animated films that use CGI and foreground themes of revolution and revolt, making connections between communitarian revolt and queer embodiment (29)

Pixarvolt films draw upon standard narratives, but is also interested in:

  • social hierarchies
  • relations between inside/outside
  • desire for revolution, transformation, rebellion
  • self-conscious about own relation to innovation, tradition, transformation (30)

Films: Chicken Run (collective rebellion, imagining and realizing utopian elsewhere), The March of the Penguins (resolutely animal narrative about cooperation, affiliation, anachronism of homo-hetero divide), Monsters, inc (anti-humanist, anti-capitalist), Bee Movie (oppositional groups rising up to subvert the singularity of the human w/unruly mob)

difference between Pixarvolt and merely Pixilated? difference between collective revolutionary selves and conventional notion of a fully realized individual...Pixarvolts desire for difference is not connected to a neoliberal "Be Yourself" mentality or to exceptionalism; it connects individualism to selfishness, overconsumption (47). 

chapter two: Dude, Where's My Phallus? Forgetting, Losing, Looping

explain the title: 

"we can argue for queerness as a set of spatialized relations that are permitted through the while male's stupidity, his disorientation in time and space" (65). How?

"The beauty of Dude is that it acknowledges the borrowed and imitative forms of white male subjectivity and traces for us the temporal order of dominant culture that forgets what it has borrowed and never pays back" (67). 

"dude, seriously: forgetting, unknowing, losing, lacking, bumbling, stumbling, these all seem like hopeful developments in the location of the white male" (68). 

Dude offers a potent allegory of memory, forgetting, remembering, and forgetting again which we can use to describe and invent this moment in the university, poised as it is and as we are between offering a distinction "negative" strand of critical consciousness to a public that would rather not know and using more common idioms to engage those who don't why they should care (68) EXPLAIN

  • Forgetting: forgetfulness as useful tool for women/queer people for jamming smooth operations of normal and ordinary (71), allows for rupture of present/break w/past/opportunity for new, non-hetero future (71), delink historical change from family/generations, forget family (71-72), Dory forgets family and opens up new modes of relating/belonging/caring (72)

Edelman and heterofuturity + the Child (73)

Stockton and growing up sideways (73)

Finding Nemo (key argument 80-81) and 50 First Dates (key argument on 77) both deploy forgetting to represent a disordering of social bonds, employ transgender motifs to represent queer disruption in logic of normal, and both understand queer time os operating against progress/tradition (74-75).

" The example of Dory in Finding Nemo in fact encourages us to rest a while in the weird but hopeful temporal space of the lost, the ephemeral, and the forgetful" (82). 

In their conclusion, does JH address (enough) the potential value of remembering and connecting with the community/culture/"family"? How can we put their claim for the value of breaking from family (forgetting/losing) beside E. Patrick Johnson's emphasis on re-imaging home/identity/community/belonging and Andrea Smith's critique of "no future" and the linear past/present/future it relies on (Smith, 50) and the possibilities for re-negotiating home?

See my live-tweets after the jump.

Great event: To Love and Ruckus


Check out this great event this Wednesday at 5PM in the Nolte Center, Room140

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Day Nineteen: November 10


Today's focus: Kinship


National Campaign: FKH8

Butler: "Is kinship always already heterosexual?" in Undoing Gender

Kinship = a set of practices that institutes relationships of various kinds which negotiate the reproduction of life and the demands of death...practices that emerge to address fundamental forms of human dependency, which may include birth, child rearing, relations of emotional dependency and support, generational ties, illness, dying, and death (to name a few) (103). 

Disjoining kinship and marriage

Role of the State

  • Does the turn to marriage make it thus more difficult to argue in favor of the viability of alternative kinship arrangements, or for the well-being of the "child" in any number of social forms?
  • What happens to the radical project to articulate and support the proliferation of sexual practices outside of marriage and the obligations of kinship?
  • Do the turn to the state signal the end of a radical sexual culture?
  • Does such a prospect become eclipsed as we become increasingly preoccupied with landing the state's desire?

Gayle Rubin's Charmed Circle from "Thinking Sex" in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader:


The logic of legitimacy/illegitimacy

  • a field outside of this binary that is less thinkable...the never will be, the never was (106)
  • New hierarchies: the "good" queer vs. the "bad" queer (106)

nonplaces: there are middle regions, hybrid regions of legitimacy and illegitimacy that have no clear names, and where nomination itself falls into a crisis produced by the variable, sometimes violent boundaries of legitimating practices that come into uneasy and sometimes conflictual contact with one another. These are not precisely places where one can choose to hang out, subject positions one might opt to occupy. These are nonplaces where recognition, including self-recognition, proves precarious if not elusive, in spite of one's best efforts to be a subject in some recognizable sense. They are not sites of enunciation, but shifts in the topography from which a questionably audible claim emerges: the claim of the not-yet-subject and the nearly recognizable (108). 

what TROUBLES the distinction between legitimate/illegitimate are sexual practices that do not appear immediately as coherent in the available lexicon of legitimation (108). 

JB's points: 

  1. Wants to attend to the foreclosure of the possible that takes place when, from the urgency to stake a political claim [e.g. for/against gay marriage], one naturalizes the options that figure most legibly within the sexual field (108). 
  2. Argues that "a politics that incorporates a critical understanding is the only one that can maintain a claim to being self-reflective and non-dogmatic" (109). 

To be political does not merely mean to take a single and enduring "stand" (109).

more questions: 

  • What is this desire to keep the state from offering recognition to nonheterosexual partners, and what is the desire to compel the state to offer such recognition? 
  • Whose desire might qualify as a desire for state legitimation? 
  • Whose desire might quality as the desire of the state?
  • What may desire the state?
  • And whom may the state desire? Whose desire will be the state's desire?

desire for place and sanctification (111)

JB, the "monstrous" future, and ways to respond (113)

  • challenge current episteme of intelligibility; argue that other configurations of kinship do exist and should be recognized; outline the negative physical, economic, psychic effects of derealization
  • But, are there not other ways [outside of the state] of feeling possible, intelligible, even real apart from the sphere of state recognition? Should there not be other ways?

Dilemma: Living w/out norms of recognition results in suffering and disenfranchisement but the demand to be recognized can lead to new forms of social hierarchy, new ways of extending and supporting state power, and the disavowal of sexual lives structured outside of marriage (115). 

What is the state (116)? In U.S. state = site to which we can turn which will finally render un coherent...fantasy of state between state stipulation and existing social life (117)

JB's goal: to not resolve this dilemma, but to develop a critical practice that is mindful of both the need for recognition/intelligibility and the need to maintain a critical/transformative relation to the norms that govern what will/will not count as intelligible kinship configurations/practices (117). 

Dean Spade Interview


America's first openly transgender law professor on the power of zines, the sacrifice social movements require, and the limits of legal reform

Day Eighteen: November 8




the seven stages of conocimiento

one el arrebato...rupture, ending, a beginning

two nepantla...torn between ways

three the Coatlicue state...desconocimiento and the cost of knowing

four the call...el compromiso...the crossing and conversion

five putting Coyolxauhqui personal and collective "stories"

six the blow-up...a clash of realities

seven shifting realities...acting out the vision or spiritual activism


  • liminal space
  • birth canal threshold (554)
  • bridge/crossing

"Suspended between traditional values and feminist ideas, you don't know whether to assimilate, separate or isolate" (548). 

  • torn between home and school, family/ethnic culture and the anglo world
  • face divisions
  • bombarded with new ideas, perceptions of self and world
  • experience vulnerability
  • suspended on the bridge between rewind/fast-forward, elation/despair, anger/forgiveness
  • space of extremes
  • critical reflection
  • home

"Nepantla is the site of transformation, the place where different perspectives come into conflict and where you question the basic ideas, tenets, and identities inherited from your family, your education, and your different cultures" (548). 

"Nepantla is the zone between changes where you struggle to find equilibrium between the outer expression of change and your inner relationship to it" (548-549).

  • seeing double
  • seeing through the fiction of monoculture (and myth of white superiority)
  • seeing through, allowing you to examine the ways you construct knowledge/identity/reality, and explore how some of your/others' constructions violate other people's ways of knowing and living (544)
  • begin to see race as an experience of reality, not fixed feature of personality/identity
  • creates split in are a double-knower
  • vigilance becomes survival tool
  • mind/body
  • crave change and long to engage with world beyond accustomed horizon
  • fear keeps you between repulsion/propulsion



Screen shot 2011-11-07 at 9.16.03 PM.png

  • next to, in proximity to, touching others, in relation to others 
  • bodies touching--violence and care (Butler, 21/23)
  • in addition to, another perspective, another direction, always more than "I" (Butler, 32)
  • ecstatic, outside of oneself (but not fully outside of oneself), torn from self/bound to others/undone by others/implicated in lives of others (Butler, 20)
  • overwhelmed with emotion: grief, passion, anger, fear, panic
  • undone by grief
  • a space of im/possibility
  • a space of community, a "we" that is fashioned through "undoneness," refusals to fully identify, inability to fit, disidentification (Butler, 20)
  • relationship to/with theories, mainstream representations/ideologies, other parts of self/community
  • one of many relationships, positions

see some key words after the jump

"World"-Traveling and Loving Perception

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For this Direct engagement, I will explicate Chapter 4, "Playfulness, 'World'-Traveling and Loving Perception" in Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes by Maria Lugones. This is a rich and complex text, and I believe is needs a lot of analysis and explanation in order to be understood. I will use many quotes from the chapter and annotate them as I go along.

I. Introduction
At the beginning of this chapter, Lugones states

"... the outsider has necessarily acquired flexibility in shifting from the mainstream construction of life where she is constructed as an outsider to the other constructions of life where she is more or less "at home" (77).

Lugones states that while this flexibility is "required by the logic of oppression," it can also be "exercised resistantly." She calls this flexibility "world"-traveling, and states that she will argue that this should be done in a playful manner.

II. "Arrogant Perception."
An important part of Lugones' argument is the concept of "arrogant perception." To introduce this concept, Lugones quotes Marilyn Frye:

"to perceive arrogantly is to perceive that others are for oneself and to proceed to arrogate their substance to oneself" (78)

Lugones does not offer any interpretation of what this statement means. I will take the liberty to interpret it as best I can. What I believe it means is that to perceive a person arrogantly is to only see that person one-dimensionally. That is, to see someone as a stereotype or in such a way that ignores the complexity of a person and her/his experiences, and to deny the possibility of a multi-dimensional subject. It is a way of seeing or interpreting a person in a way that is understandable/intelligible to oneself. Or, perhaps, it is to see a person through the eyes of the oppressor.

Lugones states that she plans to make a connection between arrogant perception and "the failure to identify" with the person that one perceives arrogantly, or to view a person as being a production of arrogant perception. She argues that as we learn and continue to perceive others arrogantly or to think of them as merely passive subjects molded and shaped by arrogant perception, we are failing to identify with - and failing to love - that person (78).

Lugones continues, arguing that women have an injunction to "have our gazes fixed on the oppressor" along with another injunction "not to look to and connect with each other in resistance" to oppression. She writes, "It is part of veing taught to be a woman ... to be both the agent and the object of arrogant perception" (80).

To elaborate on this point, Lugones discusses her relationship with her mother. She explains that she struggled with how she ought to "love" her mother. She thought that by loving her mother - by being a "parasite" (a term she uses throughout the chapter, and which I took to mean being dependent on her mother for housing, feeding, etc.) - she was abusing/using her mother. She also had the sense that to love her mother meant that she had to identify with her mother, to see herself in her mother - "Thus, to love her was supposed to be of a piece with both my abusing her and with my being open to being abused" (80).

What Lugones is saying is that the way she was taught to "love" another meant that she had to identify with the other person - identifying with, in this case, meaning seeing oneself in the same position as the person with whom one is identifying. Lugones saw her mother being used/abused by those around her, therefore, if she identified with her mother - saw herself in the same position - that meant that Lugones herself was in a position to be similarly abused.

It is in this way, Lugones argues, that "women who are perceived arrogantly can, in turn, perceive other women arrogantly" (80). Lugones is perceived arrogantly by others in that she is stereotyped and oppressed as a woman, as a woman of color, and so on. However, she was also perceiving her mother arrogantly when she saw her mother as being only in a state of servitude to others - this perception, Lugones argues now, is an arrogant one, as it reduces the possible complexities of her mother's life and does not take into account how her mother might see herself outside of an arrogant/oppressive gaze.

The point of elaborating on arrogant perception is so that Lugones can make the argument that white/Anglo women (who are perceived arrogantly by white/Anglo men), arrogantly perceive women of color. What makes this article unique, I think, is the disclaimer Lugones gives after making this argument:

"I am not interested in assigning responsibility. I am interested in understanding the phenomenon so as to understand a loving way out of it. I am offering a way of taking responsibility, of exercising oneself as not doomed to oppress others" (81).

Lugones does not wish to condemn white/Anglo women, for indeed it is not only white/Anglo women who perceive others arrogantly: as she pointed out, women of color can do it to one another (shown in the example of Lugones and her mother).

Additionally, it is not necessarily a choice made consciously. As Lugones argued earlier, women are indeed compelled to perceive others arrogantly, while simultaneously being compelled to understand themselves as being perceived arrogantly by others. Instead, Lugones wishes to find a way to escape the seductive draw of arrogant perception, and instead find a way for women of all shapes and colors to perceive one another in a loving way.

Lugones continues by explaining why coalitional work between white/Anglo women and women of color has been difficult. She cites Audre Lorde and her argument that the formation of coalitions can have a problematic homogenizing aspect. Focusing on "differences" which are constructed by the "logic of domination" is part of the "divide and conquer" strategy used by oppressors to separate and diffuse the radical potential of different groups of women. Lugones argues that instead we need to focus neither on sameness nor on "difference" (insofar as these "differences" are constructed through the logic of oppression), but instead of "non-dominant differences" (84). What this means is that we need to understand ourselves as occupying interrelated "'worlds' of resistant meaning," - that is, to abandon arrogant perceptions and to instead "travel" to other people's "worlds" and to see and understand these "worlds" (85).
Lugones once again quotes Frye:

"the loving eye is 'the eye of one who knows that to know the seen, one must consult something other than one's own will and interests and fears and imagination'." (85).

What this means, I think, is that we have to abandon our arrogant perceptions and refuse to use our own preconceived notions and experiences to interpret the experiences and lives of other people. To do this, Lugones will argues, we need to "travel" to the "worlds" of other people.

III. "Worlds" and "World"-Traveling
Before we can go further, we need to explore the concept of Lugones' "worlds." Lugones stresses that a "world" is not a utopian theory. It cannot be an imagined place; rather, a "world" must be possible. However, Lugones clarifies, any possible "world" will not necessarily fit into her conception of "worlds." Rather, a "world" must be "inhabited at present by some flesh and blood people" (87). A "world" could be a society, a "dominant culture's description and construction of life" including its constructions of gender, race, class, etc. A "world" can also be a "nondominant, a resistant construction" by a minority of the dominant society. Indeed, she writes, a "world" "need not be a construction of a whole society. It may be a construction of a tiny portion of a particular society" (87). "Worlds" might also be incomplete (88). Furthermore, one does not have to participate in or consider oneself a member of a certain "world" in order to be constructed as a certain subject within that "world." For example, the "world" of patriarchy may construct me as a "woman" and with that construction come adjectives such as weak, emotional, irrational, feminine. I may not accept that construction of myself, yet the fact remains that that "world" of sense still exists and continues to view me in such a way regardless of how I may personally feel or think about it.

The next point Lugones makes is that one can move between different "worlds" and may even occupy multiple "worlds" at the same time. Lugones writes,

"Those of us who are 'world'-travelers have the distinct experience of being different in different 'worlds' and of having the capacity to remember other 'worlds' and ourselves in them." (89)

The peculiar trait of a "world"-traveler is that she knows herself to be a slightly different person while she occupies different "worlds," but still retains the memory of each different person while she moves between these "worlds." The best example I can think of is this:

I think many people probably behave differently around their - for example - grandparents than they do around - to take another example - their friends. Around my grandparents, I become a different person: I am law-abiding and mindful of rules, I focus on my studies rather than on my social life, and I always tell them that I am majoring in political science, which is only about 1/3rd true (since political science is, in fact only one of three parts of my individualized degree). There are various reasons for my animating this particular self, one of them being I don't wish to give my poor grandparents (who were born in the 1930s, and must have been the big scandal of the town when they got married - since my grandfather is Catholic and my grandmother is Lutheran) a heart attack by discussing with them the gritty details of my studies of Gays, Lesbians, and Trans-folk (oh my!) and because it makes them happy to see me as the angel of a granddaughter they have come to see me to be. However, the person I become around my friends is radically different from this self I present to my grandparents. I understand that I am different people within these different "worlds," and yet while I am in either "world," I can still fully recall who I am in the other.

This shifting from being one person to being a different one depending on the "world" that one is occupying at a specific time is what Lugones means by "traveling" in her conception of "world"-traveling. She clarifies that this traveling may or may not be done by choice or even consciously by an individual. While it may be that I choose to be a different person while around my grandparents, it may also be partly due to the fact that in the "world" of my grandparents, they have come to see me in a particular way, and I find myself unwittingly animating that construction of myself.

IV. Ease/Comfort in Different "Worlds"
An important part of this chapter is the degree to which one feels at home (or not at home) in different "worlds." Lugones discusses four different ways of feeling at ease in different worlds:

1. Ease via Fluency

"The first way of being at ease in a particular 'world' is by being a fluent speaker in that 'world.' I know all the norms that there are to be followed. I know all the words that there are to be spoken. I know all the moves. I am confident." (90).

An example would be the "world" of our classroom. I can say that I feel at ease in this "world" because I am fluent in the "language" we use inside of it. I know all the terms and lingo we use to discuss queer theory. I know the protocols for discussion and sharing our thoughts. Therefore, I am at ease in this "world" - I am confident. However, if I were to enter a different kind of classroom - say, a 4000-level chemistry class - I would not feel at ease at all. I would have no idea what vocabulary should be used, nor would I have any sense of how I should appropriately engage with my classmates or my instructor. I am not fluent in the language of that "world."

2. Ease via "Normative Happiness"

"Another way of being at ease is by being normatively happy. I agree with all the norms, I could not love any norms better. I am asked to do just what I want to do or what I think I should do. I am at ease." (90)

The example that immediately came to mind when I read this section was the "world" of a church or another religious institution. One who is in full agreement with the faith being practices within their religious institution would feel at ease. She/he understands and agrees with the doctrine of said establishment. She/he feels that the religion/faith is asking her/him to perform rituals that she/he wants to do or at least feels comfortable doing. I am not a religious person, and so in any religious institution, I feel uneasy. I am not at home in this "world," because I either do not understand or disagree with the norms of the institution.

3. Ease via Personal Bonds

"Another way of being at ease in a 'world' is by being humanly bonded. I am with those I love and they love me, too." (90).

This sense of ease seems fairly self-explanatory to me. An example could be the "world" of one's family. One may feel at east at home among family, whom one loves and feels comfortable with.

4. Ease via Common History

"Finally, one may be at ease because one has a history with other that is shared, especially daily history ..." (90).

Lugones gives an example for this type of ease, but - perhaps ironically - I think it is not as profound for most of us in this class, because it is slightly "dated." The example I will give is of "90s kids." What I mean by this is kids born in the 1990s. While a group of 90s kids may come together without knowing each other at all before hand, if one of them says, "Remember cartoons in the 90s? They were the best!" I can guarantee that a lively discussion will follow in which each member references her/his favorite show that aired in the '90s, and much reminiscing will be had. While a group of strangers would normally feel uncomfortable around one another, the fact that they share a common history (i.e., the golden age of cartoons), they are able to feel at ease with one another in this particular "world." Someone who was not born in the 90s would not feel at ease, because she/he would not have had the same experience of watching the best cartoons ever conceived of, much to their loss. (Forgive my biased-ness. I am being ~playful~ here.)

Lugones states that it is possible for one to feel all four of these types of ease in a certain "world," but she adds that this is often only the case in the "worlds" of the dominant/oppressors, and one who feels all these comforts within a given "world" is often not compelled to travel between "worlds," thus causing the negative effects of arrogant perception and so on (91). Still, the ease one feels in different "worlds" is important to pay attention to, because it can be helpful in examining who one is in a specific "world," and in explaining why one travels between "worlds" to begin with.
Lugones writes that one may experience "oneself as an agent in a fuller sense than one experiences oneself in other 'worlds,'" while at the same time one may dismiss another "world" because one has painful memories of oppression or degradation within it. In some "worlds," one may be compelled to act in certain ways by other people, and may be unable to act in the way one wishes for oneself, yet despite this lack of agency/choice, this is still a "world" in which one travels (91).

The important part of this argument is that the "world"-traveler retains a perfect memory of each different person she/he is in each different "world." Sometimes these persons embody characteristics that are contradictory to one another, which leads the "world"-traveler to have a "double image" of her-/himself. Lugones writes:

"I can have both images of myself and, to the extent that I can materialize or animate both images at the same time, I become an ambiguous being." (92).

This, I think, is where the resistant possibility of "world"-traveling comes in. If one chooses to animate two opposing selves within one particular "world," this will cause ambiguity, confusion, doubt, discomfort. This, I think, can reveal the constructedness of arrogant perception. Lugones uses the example of how she, being a Latin American woman, is constructed as being emotionally intense. She may animate this emotional intensity either unintentionally or by choice. However, the outsider watching her will only see her animating emotional intensity, without being able to access or understand Lugones' true intentions (92). However, the outsider may get the sense of some internal tension, which may cause her/him to wonder if the joke is actually on her/him, and not on Lugones, and she/he may have originally suspected. Here, I think, is a link to Butler's theory of using performativity as a form of resistance. While performing gender in a parodic way may reveal the construction of gender itself, animating multiple, contradictory selves within a specific "world" of sense may reveal the fact that "worlds" to indeed exist, and that some of these "worlds" construct certain people in an "arrogant" fashion.

V. Playfulness
Lugones has now explained "worlds" and "world"-traveling, but she still has an important part of her argument to cover. At the beginning, Lugones states that "world"-traveling must be done in a "playful" manner. In this section, she discusses two types of "playfulness."

1. "Agonistic playfulness."

This type of playfulness, Lugones explains, is a particularly Western and masculinist conception of playfulness. Central to it is competition. She says there is uncertainty involved in this kind of playfulness, but the uncertainty in this case is about who is going to win and who is going to lose. In this kind of playfulness, there are rules, and one is required to know them and to follow them. In this kind of playfulness, the playful attitude is the result of an activity being designated as "play." Lugones uses the example of role-playing, in which "the person who is a participant in the game has a / fixed conception of him- or herself" (94). There is no room for flexibility or interpretation within this type of playfulness.

If one travels between "worlds" using this kind of playfulness, that person is traveling in the same way as an imperialist. Lugones writes, "The agonistic traveler is a conqueror, an imperialist" (94). This type of travel will only ever do violence to other "worlds," as it will try to conquer them and make them assimilate or disappear. Lugones writes, "One cannot cross the boundaries with it [this agonistic type of playfulness]. One needs to give up such an attitude if one wants to travel" (95).

2. "Loving playfulness."

This type of playfulness could be considered the mirror image of agonistic playfulness. While in agonistic playfulness, the playful attitude follows from an activity that has been deemed "play," loving playfulness comes about in the opposite direction:

"Instead, the attitude that carries us through the activity, a playful attitude, turns the activity into play. Our activity has no rules, though it is certainly intentional activity, and we both understand what we are doing. The playfulness ... includes uncertainty, but in this case the uncertainty is an openness to surprise." (95).

In this type of playfulness, the rules are not nailed down, and the participants are not concerned with winning or losing, but rather concerned with the possibility of surprise - of changing the game. One plays in a way that "does not expect the 'world' to be neatly packaged, ruly," and the participants are not pre-packaged subjects, but rather are "open to self-construction" (96). It is this type of playfulness that one must use while traveling between "worlds."

Lugones ends this section with this statement:

"In attempting to take a hold of oneself and of one's relation to other in a particular 'world,' one may study, examine, and come to understand oneself. One may then see what the possibilities for play are for the being one is in that 'world.' One may even decide to inhabit that self fully to understand it better and find its creative possibilities." (96).
This is what I take that statement to mean: Choosing to animate a particular self in a particular "world" fully is not submitting to an outside construction - it is allowing one to fully understand that particular self and to find a potential within it for change, for play, or for creating resistance.

VI. Conclusion
The ultimate point Lugones is trying to make, is that we need to understand that people can move between "worlds" and can inhabit multiple "worlds" at one time. We must come to understand the plurality and multiplicity of selves that many of us occupy. We need to abandon arrogant perception and allow ourselves to travel to other people's "worlds" in order to see them in a full and complete way - a way that does justice to the beautiful complexities of each person's experience. Lugones writes, "Only when we have traveled to each other's 'worlds' are we fully subjects to each other" (97). To travel to another person's "world" is part of knowing them, and knowing them is part of loving them.

"By traveling to other people's 'worlds,' we discover that there are 'worlds' in which those who are the victims of arrogant perception are really subjects, lively beings, resisters, constructors of cisions even though in the mainstream construction they are animated only by the arrogant perceiver and are pliable, foldable, file-awayable, classifiable." (97).

This is, I think I beautiful chapter, full of hope and love. Lugones suggests "disloyalty to arrogant perceivers, including the arrogant perceivers in ourselves" (98). While there are "worlds" that we construct for ourselves, there are also "worlds" that are constructed outside of our control, and in them we are constructed by arrogant perceivers, and are compelled to arrogantly perceive others. However, Lugones shows us that we are not trapped in those "worlds." We can travel to our own various "worlds," and through that travel, we can come to understand ourselves as complex, beautiful, and reject the arrogant perceiver's construction of us as flat, ugly, one-dimensional beings. Also, once we learn to travel between our own "worlds," we can travel to the "worlds" of others. But, we must do this in a lovingly playful way - this is the only way we can enter the "worlds" of others without colonizing them, and without bringing our own preconceptions and our own internalized arrogant gaze into them. We can accept others into our "worlds," and we can lovingly and playfully enter the "worlds" of others. By doing this, we can come to know and understand each other. And through knowing each other, Lugones says, we can love one another.

DE #3 Extra gender reading: 1 percent on the Burn Chart

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This article called " One Percent on the Burn Chart: Gender, Genitals, and Hermaphrodites With Attitude" discusses the argument of how gender and sexuality are construed or understood as cultural not natural. Within this article the authors Valentine and Wilchins examine ways in which bodies are challenged. They first discuss what trans and intersex bodies mean for feminist anthropologists, secondly they discuss what it means to understand cultural constructions of the body. They also define what intersexuality is. This is very helpful when reading the article. The authors also bring in the idea behind the 1 percent on the burn chart. The two authors then bring about 3 stories from 3 different people that either represent themselves as transgender or intersex, or gender oppressed. All three of them prefer to be called hir but two of them also inform the author they can be referred to as she/he.

I want to first examine the ways in which the authors explain their understanding of gender and sexuality and how it is understood as cultural not natural. Valentine and Wilchins suggest " As anthropologists over the past century- particularly from within the field of feminist anthropology- have developed understandings of gender and sexuality as cultural , not natural, categories of experience, they have also increasingly understood "the body" itself as a cultural construct" (215). The idea of embodiment, sexuality and gender come into context in terms of identity markers such as man, lesbian, or even transexual. This produces a coherence between gender, sexual practices and somatic makeup.
Next, the concept of bodies being challenged refers to the idea of discussing "what kinds of bodies challenge the cultural grids of intelligibly gendered, sexual and embodied identity categories and how these categories can contribute to a feminist and anthropological rethinking of what it means to say that the body is "culturally constructed" (215).
Next, i want to move into discussing the two issues Valentine and Wlichins suggest that adheres to the concept of challenging bodies. First, they explain the issue of what a trans and intersex body might mean for feminist anthropological understandings of gendered and sexual bodies.They conclude that the understandings may focus on the issues of power and difference. Are there certain bodies that fit this category of different? How can these bodies gain power? Second, they explain the issue and/or question of "what does it mean to understand the "cultural construction of the body" by studying bodies that are othered by categories such as transexual, hermaphrodite, or intersex, and how might one extend such an analysis?"(216). In this instance i think the authors are suggesting how we as a culture can understand the "cultural construction of the body",how these bodies are looked upon in society through cultural beliefs. What is constructed as "othered" body? In terms of thinking about intersexuality the authors explain this term as " a physical condition that refers to people whose genitals are not clearly male or female" (216). And that there are multiple manifestations of intersexuality... (216).

Next, i want to confront the idea behind the "One Percent on the Burn Chart".
The idea come from a conversation the author had with a registered nurse, who is all too familiar with transgender experiences. Wilchins explains that the nurse indicated to her that "in assessing skin burns, the genital area counts as only 1 percent of the surface area of the body. But - 1 percent or not- genitals carry an enormous amount of cultural weight in the meanings that are attached to them" (215). Wilchins argues that "genitals constitute as almost 100 percent of what we, as both cultural members and as producers of cultural knowledge, come to understand and assume about the body's sex and gender"( 215). This means that most people within our society hold genitals to be a huge part of how one identifies and when certain people are cannot be identified by their genitals it becomes a dominant issue within our culture. Why has genitals become so evident within our culture? Who decides that genitals constitute what a person's gender is?

Lastly, i want to conclude with the three people the author meets up with in discussing the issues of the othered bodies. The first person is Max and is intersex. In this context the author uses pronouns such as hir and she/he to refer to max. Max got surgery when he was as little as 1 years old and was assigned to be a girl. The second person is Morgan and is gendered as a woman according to the author's opinion of hir, She/he. Morgan's father was told by a doctor that morgan's large clitoris would have to be down sizes to avoid erections that may be painful if she/he would be wearing trousers. Morgan is careful to avoid mentioning hir gender, what hir genitals look like as well as hir partners gender.The thrid person is named Rikki Anne and does not identify as either intersex or as anything at all, except for gender oppressed. The author informs the reader the Rikki has been very influential in writing this paper. Rikki has had sex re-assignment surgery.
The author has discussions with these three people about the meanings of bodies. Valentine explains that trans and intersex bodies raise questions for him as an anthropologist. "The ways in which people physically reconstruct bodies comes to mind, but it also raises questions as to how we, as anthropologists and producers of cultural knowledge, make sense of them. The author also mentions the idea of power. Valentine suggests the issue of power in terms of not only agency, but also in the policing of these bodies by cultural apparatuses. what question comes to mind is how these people are being police, by who and why?

Queer this! Trangender kids


i found this video online. Its from CNN. Its called Transgender boy tries to join Girl Scouts. Its about a young child of about 7 or 8 and how she feels she's a girl but referred to as a boy because she has boy body parts.
I thought this would be a great way to have some discussion in class

due dates for november and december



8 Nyssa presents on liminal

19 Track term comment #2

22 NO CLASS (catch up on blog)

29 Gina and Briana present on bodies/material experiences


1 Annotated Bib #3

1 Dunstan presents on youth

6 Gabe presents on surviving/thriving

7 Remix/revisit (details discussed on nov 17)

7 DE Comment 2

7 Queer This! Comment 3

7 Tweet sources 7,8 and 9

8 Turn in blog worksheets for final time

8 Final wrap-up post

8/13 Final wrap-up presentation (sign-up sheet + details discussed on nov 17) 

13 Final class!

Schochet Endowment Colloquia


Hay folks! So now that the panel discussion on gay marriage is done and I have gay divorced myself from it, I am throwing a lot of my energy into setting up two colloquia series:

Queering Performance: The Role of Art in Social Movements

Beyond Marriage: Broadening of LGBTQ Social Movements

If you could spread this information around to folks who may be interested in coming PLEASE do. You don't need to be a student to attend, both of these events are free and open to the public =).

Annotated Bibliography #2!


For this annotated bibliography, I wished to explore academic texts that offered some form of hope or ideas for change. I followed Sara's advice and looked at the Social Text Journal and read articles that were suggested for a Queer Suicide Teach in. All of these sources had different, and often conflicting ideas about how to tackle the problem of gay teen suicide.

1. a) Queer Suicide: An Introduction to the Teach In
b) Eng-Beng Lim
c) Lim questions the reasons why some queer bodies garner more attention in the media: a question I often ask myself while wondering why Jamey Rodemeyer garnered so much attention and not other people. Noticeably, queer subjects of color who have fallen victim to bullying and suicide rarely make the news, and if they do, they are much less of a media frenzy. Lim discusses how technology connects people to some extent but also allows a new form of bullying: cyber bullying. Lim calls for a teach in regarding queer suicide in order to educate people about ways to try and prevent the suicides.
d) Lim offers many more articles to discuss the situation: Looking Through and At Media Treatment of LGBTQ Youth"; Joon Oluchi Lee's "Gay Rage"; Gail Cohee's "Bridging Feminist/Queer Theory and Practice"; Eng-Beng Lim's "No Kid Play."
e) I found this source through the link that Sara so kindly suggested!
f) "Periscope: Queer Suicide: An Introduction to the Teach-In." Social Text. Web. 03 Nov. 2011. .
2. a) It Gets Worse
b) Jack Halberstam
c) Jack Halberstam is critiquing the very notion that "it gets better" and realizing that for some, it simply gets worse, or even different. Halberstam notes that it gets better for a very select group of privileged individuals and the same cannot be said for everyone. Queers of color, women of color, teenage moms, and victims of abuse simply can't relate to the It Gets Better Project because for them, it may never get better. Halberstam wishes to critique the so notion that it gets better for those who are "born with a silver spoon in their mouth."
d) Halberstam's article makes me want to search through the "It Gets Better" videos and try to find some queers of color, or anyone that fits outside the homonormative idea of white, privileged, gay men.
e) This source was recommended by Eng-Beng Lim as a response to the Queer Suicide Teach in.
3. a) Gay Rage
b) Joon Oluchi Lee
c) Joon Oluchi Lee is perhaps critiquing the idea that a teach in regaring Queer Suicide would have any effective because Lee claims that no amount of sensitivity training will have a positive impact and end bullying. This is a pessimistic, but perhaps more realistic notion. Lee suggests making our heterosexual world unrecognizeable through our difference in order to enact social change and progress. Lee argues against traditional assimilationist goals like gay marriage and the repeal of DADT and instead suggests queering our society.
d) Lee offers a more radical version of people "getting better" and making our world one that queers are able to survive. I would like to search for more radical view points that offer alternative views to simply waiting our your life and waiting for your life to get better.
e) This text was also recommended on Social Text Journal as an accompaniment to the Queer Suicide Teach In.

Direct Engagement: Munoz!


Munoz begins his essay with a description of the way that performing queerness on a stage has multiple signifiers because of the many ways that queers and queers of color have been disadvantaged and discriminated against by society. Munoz offers artist Marga Gomez's performance in her metaphoric bedroom as an act of resistance to the Bowers vs Hardwick Supreme Court decision which effectively removed the right of privacy from gays and lesbians. By performing from her on stage "bedroom," she is challenging her lack of privacy and owning her queerness in a way that she is opening herself up from her own accord as opposed to being exposed by the government.
Munoz defines disidentification as something that is meant to: "be descriptive of the survival strategies the minority subject practices in order to negotiate a phobic majoritarian public sphere that continuously elides or punishes the subjects who do not conform to the phantasm of normative citizenship." To put disidentification into my own words, I would say Munoz is saying that they are survival strategies for oppressed minority groups in order to exist in a world that constantly punishes them for existing in a non-normative framework. Munoz also posits that it is possible to exist within and outside of dominant practices while utilizing disidentification survival strategies. I wonder how it is possible to simultaneously exist within and outside of a space. Perhaps it is participating in mainstream Capitalism, for example, while also resisting in other ways such as performing a queer gender or unintelligible sexuality.
Munoz says that these identities-in-difference come from a failure to adopt society's identity norms and create a counterpublic sphere of identity. Munoz provides a definition of identity by Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis that states that identity is assimilating to a certain model. By disidentifying, you are resisting assimilation into the model that has been created for us. He discusses Sedgwick's argument that by identifying with something, you are disidentifying with some other identity. This is similar to Judith Butler's idea that in order to create the heterosexual, one most construct the opposite: the homosexual.
Munoz moves to discuss Marlon Brigg's discussion of queerness as always being associated with whiteness, a problem we still face today. Much of the gay rights movement is still seen as "white-faced," or represented only by upper-middle class, white, gay men. This leaves out the possibly for representation for queers of color, of lower class, of lesbians, of transpeople; the list goes on and on. We have a very homonormative ideal about the LGBT rights movement and it's main struggle: gay marriage. This exclusion combined with the racist idea that the African American community is somehow more homophobic and intolerant of gay people makes the gay rights movement a very racist space.
Munoz delves deeper into the idea of working against and within a dominant ideology, clearing up some of my previous confusion. He states that, "this 'working on and against' is a strategy that tries to transform a cultural logic from within, always laboring to enact permanent structural change while at the same time valuing the importance of local or everyday struggles of resistance."

Queer This!: Dan Savage Gets Glitterbombed


Glitter bombing has typically been reserved for homophobic conservative politicians, but notable gay activist Dan Savage has also become victim to a glitter bombing. Dan was glitterbombed by a member of the "Dan Savage Welcoming Committee" at the University of Oregon.

Queer This! Kelly Osbourne's Transphobic Comments


I read a recent story about Kelly Osbourne making really awful comments about her ex boyfriends new girlfriend, who happens to be transgendered. I want to queer Kelly's cisgender privilege and the incredible transphobia that she displays by making these comments.

Queer the Crap out of this!!


Okay I realize that this has little to do with our class, but I thought you should see it any way. Let me know your thoughts!! How is race and class constructed in this story...the narrative is not new. It amazes me how obvious, negative and dangerous this is!!

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Day Seventeen: November 3


Here's a post that I wrote about Muñoz's Disidentifications a few years back.


So in class tomorrow (11.3), we will be discussing the introduction to Jose Esteban Munoz's Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. In this chapter, "Performing Disidentifications," Munoz examines how a wide range of cultural workers (as culture makers and theory producers) "imagine a world where queer lives, politics, and possibilities are representable in their complexity" (1). Disidentification--as a concept distinct from identification/assimilation and counteridentifical/anti-assimilation--is central to Munoz's understanding of how to imagine complex (and complicated) queer lives and practices.

So, what is disidentification? Here is what Munoz writes on page 4:

Disidentification is meant to be descriptive of the survival strategies the minority subject practices in order to negotiate a phobic majoritarian public sphere that continuously elides or punishes the existence of subjects who do not conform to the phantasm of normative citizenship.

Here are some more thoughts from the chapter:

  • Not always an adequate strategy (5)
  • About negotiating identity scripts/socially encoded rules that are available (6)
  • Influences: Chela Sandoval, Norma Alcaron, Cherie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldua (7), Crenshaw (8) and This Bridge Called My Back (22)
  • Involves deeply engaging with ideas/theories and using them, but not identifying with them (9)
  • Not good subjects or bad subjects, but dissing subjects who try to transform a cultural logic from within (11)
  • Being misrecognized, as standing under a sign (like human or normal) to which one (as queer) does/does not belong (12)
  • Not to pick and choose theories/ideas or to willfully reject, but to rework and invest them with new life (12)
  • Not an apolitical middle ground (between accepting or rejecting/fitting in or refusing to fit in) (18)
  • About negotiating strategies of resistance with discourses and counterdiscourses... shifting as quickly as power (a la Foucault) (19)
  • While it involves being hailed into existence--by answering the call from ideologies (interprellation), it also involves a reshaping of that call--a shared impulse and drive toward justice. It is the singing of a song that is not ours, but that we infuse/reshape with our own energy/passion (21).
  • Foundational text: This Bridge Called My Back (22)
  • Involves many different (often conflicting and positioned beside/against each other) scripts...not just heteronormativity, but also white normativity (22)
  • The remaking and rewriting of a dominant script and the public sphere in ways that minoritarian subject's eyes are no longer marginal (23)
  • Utopia...infused with humor and hope and camp sensibilities (25)
  • Resists, demystifies, deconstructs (26)
  • Short-circuiting (28)
  • About expanding and problematizing identity and identification, not abandoning any socially prescribed identity component (29)
  • Going against the grain and turning towards shadows and fissures (29)
  • Recycling and rethinking encoded meaning...not just cracking the code, but using the code as raw material for representing the disempowered (31)
  • Hybrid (31-32)
  • Failing to be fully hailed into existence (33)

Munoz introduces a number of different examples from the cultural work of queers of color: Marga's Bed, Baldwin's "fictional" novel, Hidaldgo's film Marginal Eyes, This Bridge Called My Back. Were any of those examples particularly helpful as you worked throught Munoz's ideas? Can you think of some examples of disidentification?

  • How do you understand disidentification in relation to resistance and rejection?
  • What sort of resistance is it and to what? Does it demand/discourage rejection?
  • How might disidentifcation relate to the term you are tracking?

DE 3: That's Revolting!


My assigned Tracking Term reading included selections from the book That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, edited by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, which includes submissions from various authors concerned with anit-assimilationist queer resistance. I would encourage you all to take a look at this book, which is very helpful in interrogating anti-assimilationist queer politics and strategies. For my Tracking term project, I focused on three pieces that highlighted and/or problematized potential sites of queer resistance.

The first piece is entitled "Sites of Racism or Sites of Resistance?" and is written by Priyank Jindal. In this essay, Jindal points to the emergence of mainstream gay patriotism and its racist implications. The author framed the move as an assimilation accomplished through white supremacy, one that pitted the privileged (presumably white) "Amerikan" against the figure of the Middle Eastern terrorist and asked mainstream "Amerika" who was worse. Their ability to mainstream, siding with the "victims" of anti-"Amerikan" terrorism, was a highly visible assertion of white privilege. The author goes on to highlight some of the ways in which mainstream gay activist and cultural groups are rarely concerned with issues affecting the poor, the non-white, the trans, etc.

The next piece I looked at was entitled "Revolting", presumably an inspiration for the name of the book, and was written by Josina Manu Maltzman. In this text, Maltzman focuses on resisting gay mainstream consumerist culture. For example, she starts the piece off my telling of her attendance at a Gay Pride Festival in which she was costumed to protest the event. The author also suggests the importance of resisting certain privileges that may be afforded to her due to her status as a white, anglo-featured Jew. She goes on to encourage others who can "pass", who have certain privileges, not to take advantage of them.

The last piece used in my presentation was entitled "Inside the Box", written by Neil Edgar, a zine author who, at least at the time, was imprisoned in the California state penitentiary system. Edgar writes very candidly about his status as a rebellious resistance in an institution that's primary goal is to dehumanize and deindividualize its captives. He also talks about the rigid binary (trans)gender roles that emerge within the prison when men assume homonormatively traditional butch/femme performances within the institution, expression they would not necessarily assume on the "outside". I found this piece particularly interesting not only because of the awesome writing, but because of the massive, all-encompassing forces that the author is resisting from. To resist in a system specifically designed to demoralize and erase difference is quite a feat.

DE #2 Bodies that Matter

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In this article i would like to talk about the ways in which Butler talks to materiality of the body and to the performativity of gender.
Butler proposes the idea of regulatory norms of sex and how it works as a performative fashion to constitute the materiality of bodies (2). Butler then moves her thought process into the concept of power. She suggests that the fixity of the body, its movements, and contours will be fully material, but also that materiality will be thought of as way to effect power (2).This makes me think about ways in which performativity can be thought of as a way to effect power. For one to perform their gender may very well be a way of gaining power. Regulatory norms of sex forms a performative space that promotes the ideas of materiality of bodies. Materiality of bodies adheres to the very "sex" of the person as i think Butler is suggesting. Does she mean certain people are performing their sex through their bodies?

Next, I want to move into Butler's idea of the subject through identification with the normative phantasm of sex and the idea that identification produces the concept of the abject. Butler proposes " the forming of a subject requires an identification with the normative phantasm of "sex", and this identification takes place through a repudiation which produces a domain of abjection, a repudiation without which the subject cannot emerge" (3). This sentence suggests that the forming of a subject must adhere to an identification that includes normative phantasms of sex. In other words in order to form a subject you need to make some kind of identification for the subject with the norms of sex. "This is a refusal or repudiation which creates a valence of "abjection" and its status for the subject as a threatening spectre" (3). This line represents the idea of abjection being part of a kind of refusal for the subject; to refuse the norms of sex, and this becomes a way of threatening the subject in creating something that is feared.
I like this article because of the concepts of materiality of the body, performtivity and how it links into the body, also because of the concept of a formation of a subject. The subject is linked into the formation of materiality and performativity.

Day Sixteen: November 1

  • Blog Folders are due today.
  • Here are MY NOTES for our discussion on Butler, Nussbaum, Foucault and resistance.
  • See Butler and performativity video here.


The task here is not to celebrate each and every new possibility qua possibility, but to redescribe those possibilities that already exist, but which exist within cultural domains designated as culturally unintelligible and impossible. If identities were no longer fixed as the premises of a political syllogism, and politics no longer understood as a set of practices derived from the alleged interests that belong to a set of ready-made subjects, a new configuration of politics would surely emerge from the ruins of the old. Cultural configurations of sex and gender might then proliferate or, rather, their present proliferation might then become articulable within the discourses that establish intelligible cultural life, confounding the very binarism of sex, and exposing its fundamental unnaturalness.What other local strategies for engaging the "unnatural" might lead to the denaturalization of gender as such?