Home » Systems of Knowledge » Queer in College: A Personal Response about what I learned about “Queer”

Queer in College: A Personal Response about what I learned about “Queer”

A recent assignment in Queer Ethnography forced me to think about the amount of information (and its content) regarding queer knowledge. After looking on the internet to see what our class could find, I was forced to acknowledge the lack of accessible information regarding queer ethnography. After reading, discussing and critiquing various works for their contribution (or lack there of) to the canon of queer ethnography, I thought critically about my subject hood and how the understanding of my embodiment has come about through various forms of queer scholarship. Acknowledging that many people reading this may have already begun to question, challenge and embrace their own person, I want to provide a space for those who have yet to interact with theoretical information that can illuminate practical, everyday experiences. With this in mind, I have responded to courses that I have taken in college to demonstrate my own growth and to promote the further exploration of others out there. Sadly, (and to further the point made earlier) many of the texts I wanted to include were blocked from public (free) consumption. Still, I was able to provide a short (and hopefully new) list of scholarship that helped me understand some of my experiences.

What follows should not be taken as anything more than my personal experience and response to certain courses, texts and terms. With that said, my (and your) personal experience is still powerful and significant! I hope that, at the very least, the commentary and resources provided start an interesting conversation.

The term “queer” often used to identify non- conforming gender and sexuality can also be applied to various subjects. Queer in an academic setting can be used to distinguish the processes by which various forms of thought have been normalized. I was first introduced to this use of the term queer in a college classroom. Queering, a verb, is a way of making visible the ways in which various forms of ideology and ways of being have been normalized. Courses within Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Queer Studies departments range from Feminist and Queer Research Methods to Race, Sexuality and the State, a course that examines the ways in which the construction of race, gender and sexuality are historical constructs that interact with government entities in very specific intersecting ways.

Exposure to these various forms of knowledge proved to be empowering. What I learned in class gave me the theory to discuss personal experiences that I had always been aware of but never before been able to articulate. What I regret now, as my college experience comes to an end, is that I hadn’t been exposed to this information earlier. What was most exhilarating was the fact that concepts that we all interact within our daily lives were exposed and the most nuanced explanations were given in an attempt to denaturalize what some of us have never before questioned.

What I hope to offer here is the knowledge I gained from the courses I have taken through my career in higher education. I wish that I had exposure to this knowledge earlier in my life and I hope, if nothing else, to provide information that can spark further inquiry into oneself or their interests. The information and resources I provide here are by no means comprehensive and they have been chosen for their specific relevance to my investment in Women, Gender and Sexuality studies scholarship and because they have been foundational in helping me understand my own embodiment and experiences.

In Feminist and Queer Research Methodologies, I learned about the power dynamics present in the fieldworker/ subject dichotomy. Additionally, I learned that contributing to the Feminist and Queer canon does not necessarily mean researching feminist or queer subjectivities. This course helped me think critically about what information I deem credible and why. It also encouraged me to deconstruct the methods of research that I never considered before. I was also forced to think about who is allowed to do research on a certain community and whether an outsider or insider perspective would be more authentic. Finally, by the end of the course, I came to accept that knowing the background of the researcher allows one to more fully understand the research that is being done and the conclusions being made.

“Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective”

http://faculty.washington.edu/pembina/all_articles/Haraway1988.pdf

“Black Looks: Race and Representation”

http://pica.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/hooks-Is-Paris-Burning_.pdf

Race, Sexuality and The State, as mentioned before, took a critical approach to understanding conceptions of race, gender and sexuality. In the class we were taught to historicize state institutions life welfare, crime, immigration policy and prisons. We closely examined capitalism and its contribution to class stratification. We found that race and sexuality are so closely related that they cannot be separated from each other when being scrutinized. What was most powerful was the critique of crime and prison and how the prison industrial complex affects those of us who are marginalized, and often criminalized, because of race, sexuality and/ or gender.

“Excerpts from Racial Formation in the U.S.: From the 1960s to the 1990s”

http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~jdowd/omi%20and%20winant%20-%20racial%20formations.pdf

“Society Must Be Defended”: Lectures at the Collége de France 1975-1976”

http://home.ku.edu.tr/~mbaker/CSHS503/FoucaultSocietyDefended.pdf

“The Culture of Poverty, Crack Babies, and Welfare Cheats 
The Making of the “Healthy White Baby Crisis”

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/social_text/v021/21.3ortiz.html

“Asian Diasporas, Neoliberalism, and Family: Reviewing the Case for Homosexual Asylum in the Context of Family Rights”

http://courses.washington.edu/com597j/pdfs/reddy,asiandiasporas.pdf

Transnational Sexualities was just as intimidating as its title, but it was equally interesting and provocative. We discussed gender and sexuality on a global level and related it to the production of borders and, thus, citizenship. We read stories and articles about various forms of being that did not include identifying as LGBT or Q. Discussion about researchers that study “foreign” ways of being by using “domestic” language complicated the idea of language and whether or not ones language can be superimposed on the experience of someone who not only speaks another language, but perceives the world through a set of distinct perspectives.

“Borderlands: La Frontera”

http://docentes2.uacj.mx/museodigital/cursos_2004/Maru/Mar_2/borderlands-anzaldua.pdf

“Queer Temporality and Postmodern Geographies”

http://caringlabor.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/judith-halberstam-queer-temporality-and-postmodern-geographies/

“Politics and Passion: A Conversation with Gloria Wekker”

http://sta.uwi.edu/crgs/november2009/journals/CRGS%20Wekker.pdf

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