Since the “Black Queer Studies in the Millennium” conference at UNC Chapel Hill in April 2000, and the Black Queer Studies anthology that followed, black queer and trans studies has grown into a dynamic and interdisciplinary discourse. The field is especially reflexive, continually drawing attention to its genealogies in black feminisms–feminisms emerging in the academy, activism, artmaking, quotidian life, and untenable archive. Attending to the biopolitical governance of racial capitalism, scholars demonstrate how black bodies, genders, and sexualities are made flesh, made ambiguous, made surplus as they are enslaved, incarcerated, and killed. At the same time, black queer and trans scholarship gestures toward forms of freedom, sensation, and pleasure–kink, ecstasy, funk, sugar, honey, love, joy, erotics, wealth, sweet, house—that provide some respite from the enduring violence that plagues black life.
In this cultural moment, media publics are starting to recognize how vulnerable black queer and trans lives are; the founders of Black Lives Matter, queer women themselves, call upon us to honor all black life—trans, undocumented, disabled. The hopeful global resonance and solidarities that accompany this movement are accompanied also by xenophobic backlashes in South Africa, Brazil, and India. Black trans and queer folks are also achieving unparalleled media visibility on shows such as Pose, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Orange is the New Black, Master of None, films such as Moonlight and Tangerine, and music from Janelle Monae, Frank Ocean, Big Freedia, and Kehlani.
This roundtable features a conversation about the genealogies and futures of black queer and trans studies across geographic and disciplinary borders, conversations that can help us take stock of the contradictory and complicated cultural moment we are in.
Robert Reid Pharr, Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Harvard University
Moya Bailey, Assistant Professor of Cultures, Societies, and Global Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Northeastern University
Sean McGuffey, Associate Professor of Sociology and African and African Diaspora Studies, Boston College
Aliyyah Abdur Rahman, Associate Professor of American Studies and English, Brown University
Dora Silva Santana, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Gender Studies, John Jay College at CUNY
Moderator: Kareem Khubchandani, Mellon Bridge Assistant Professor of Drama and Dance and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Tufts University
This Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality (GCWS) initiative, Feminisms Unbound, is an annual event series featuring debates that focus on feminist concerns, theories, and practices in this contemporary moment. This series is intended to foster conversations and community among Boston-area feminist intellectuals and activists. The series, in its open configuration, endeavors to allow the greatest measure of engagement across multiple disciplinary trajectories, and a full array of feminist investments.
This event is free and open to the public!