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Maria Rodino Sagrista

on 28 January 2014

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Transcript of QUEER THEORY

What is queer theory?
Queer theory’s

Beginnings in activism
Entry into the academy
“Many of Us”
Coalition Work”
“The divide:
reinforcing dichotomies”
About ethical principles and political alignment
Who is “us”?
Who can be considered “queer”? Am I “queer”? Why?
What requirements a person should meet to be defined as “queer”?
Naturalization of the heterosexual society
“Those embracing the label of queer understand the need to challenge the assumption of heteronormativity in every aspect of their existence”
“By leftish we mean people who understand the struggle for lesbian and gay liberation to be integrally tied to struggle against class oppression, racism and sexism. While we might use different political labels, we share a commitment to a fundamental transformation of the economic, political and social structures of society” (442)
- No integration, but deep transformation
“Queer politics do not want to integrate into dominant institutions and normative social relations…they seek to change values, definitions and laws which make these institutions and relationships oppressive” (446)
Multiple systems of oppression
(working simultaneously to create our lives the way they are)
- All of us have
multiple identities
(sexual identity is only a part of our full identity)
Intersectional analysis
is necessary
Varying relations to power
(also for heterosexuals and within the queer community)
Reductive categories of straight and queer - need for an intersectional analysis that will help us see ...
Who is the enemy? Where our potential allies can be found?

Our different identities = different oppressions and also different privileges.
- Truly radical potential of queerness for
transformational politics
(not achieved yet).
- Shared consciousness + commitment to mutual support
- The author rejects “queer politics” because it is too narrow, and not inclusive enough (reinforcing the dichotomies, focusing in the sexual framework oppression and dismissing the other ones).
- She proposes to build a renovated “Queer Politics”
“To build a movement based on one’s politics and not exclusively on one’s identity” (459)
- Potential for shared resistance with heterosexuals.
Shared political commitment.
Similar positions, as marginalized subjects relative to the state. (460)

- It should create a space in
opposition to dominant norms
where genuine transformational political work can begin.
Vision of the world as a “queer / hetero” divide” (447)
Manifesto “I Hate Straights”
Document Queers Read This “Straight people are your enemy”
dominant and controlling
marginalized and invisible
Heteronormativity Heterosexuality
- Heterosexuality is not monolithic
- We should problematize current
constructions of heterosexuality
the link between heterosexuality and power is not so direct.
- Reductive /
Limited conception
of “queer” and “heterosexual”
- “Queer Politics” has not effectively challenge heteronormativity because of:
Inability to overcome this divide “queer” vs “hetero
Focus on a single oppression framework (sexuality)

“The binary or the finite distinctions between academic work and activist analysis is an impossible one for me to inhabit.” [‘Academic and Activist Assemblages : An Interview with Jasbir Puar Naomi Greyser’, p.841].

- The activism of academia
- Ivory tower? “ trickle-down academia” (see interview with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, ‘Intellectual Inquiry Otherwise’, p.833)
- Intersections (Puar and FIERCE)
Queer Theory’s

“Straightness and its discontents”:
the queer heterosexual
Clyde Smith, “How I became a queer heterosexual”. For "Beyond Boundaries," An International Conference on Sexuality, University of Amsterdam, July 29-Aug 1, 1997 (1)

“I claim the identity of queer heterosexual in order to further my own desires for a world of multiple possibilities rather than as a means of benefiting from queer chic. Such a world would be one in which we are not restricted by binaries of sex and gender or by the balkanization of identity groups. Yet we would not erase difference and would respect the need for boundaries as deemed necessary for individual and group autonomy.”
“The analytic differentiation, however, implies the possibility of a heterosexual’s disidentification with the normative apparatus, which might in turn allow for a critical analysis of his or her compliance with the dominant structure.” (546)
Annette Schlichter, “Queer at Last? Straight Intellectuals and the Desire for Transgression”. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Volume 10, Number 4, 2004, pp. 543-564.
“queer theory distinguishes between a cultural system that produces and regulates sexual identities, on the one hand, and heterosexuality as the hegemonic identity position arising from this system, on the other. Consequently, the object of the critique is neither heterosexual desire nor the subject desiring another gender but the sociocultural system, which inscribes a heterosexual identity as a hegemonic position.” (546)
“Such reconfigurations of the subject of the critique of sexuality are contested by scholars who are skeptical of the separation between the critical performance of sexual identities and the material realities of sexual minorities. In particular, critics concerned about issues of lesbian visibility and difference occasionally raise the specter of the queer heterosexual (especially its male version) as an indication of the queer project’s perversion of social and political identities and their relations to power.” (547)
"Grasping the future possibility in the present might mean that our sense of the past needs to be rethought"

Goldberg, 2007:502
transgender phenomena
feminist movements questioning the category of woman
queer theory
From a feminist perspectives, different approaches to queer theory.

"What can we demand in the name of women if "women" do not exist and demands in their name simply reinforce the myth that they do?" (L. Alcoff 1988: 420)
"Could feminist gender-skepticism..now be operating in the service of the reproduction of white, male knowledge/ power? (S. Bordo. 1990:151 )
- Use of the category of women as a serie. Following Sartre, in opposition to group (self-identifying collective bound to share projects by relations of mutual recognition), serie would be
"Any presumption, however strategic, of a prior identity in whose name feminism intervenes necessarily generates processes of exclusion and misrepresentation that are contrary to feminist aims and values" (J. Butler in A. Jagose. 2009: 163)
"an impersonal constellation of persons brought together temporary by routinized happenstance of the material world and the social practices through which that world is articulated" (idea of Iris Marion Young in A. Jagose. 2009: 162)
What happens when the idea travels???
Queer movements, practices connected to the U.S. experiences of some.

- Challenging
- Invisibility of the lived queer experience
Reading list from the Queer Method conference:
Links of Interest
Thoughts on the meaning of queer, ‘The Queer Umbrella’:
Lauren Berlant’s research blog “tracking academic and random engagements with two scenes and concepts: ordinary life and attachment/detachment”, Supervalent Thought:
Bully Bloggers, a self-described “ queer word art group” consisting of queer theorists:
Issue of American Quarterly about academic activism:
Queerer than thou:
Queer feminist activist group in Utrecht:

What is the future of queer theory? Is the notion of queer theory still relevant?
In what ways is the malleability and all-inclusiveness of “queer” limiting?
What do we understand, experience, and feel with regards to queer, is it an identity, a space, a theory, or something else entirely?
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