This panel examines the technolabor of women in the US across multiple mediums. By technolabor we mean, women’s work with digital and material technologies such as the electric guitar, web-based platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr, and online health forums and websites like WebMD and Our Bodies, Our Blog. These three papers emerge at the crossroads of technology, identity, agency, and representation. They analyze real-time transgressive tools, actions, and effects that are generating new, incisive and inclusive capacities for producing knowledge. At the core of our research are issues of identity, self-definition and just representation. This panel uses interdisciplinary and intersectional frameworks as seen in the work of Jayna Brown and the late Jose Munoz, to contextualize these diverse groups within the category women. Presenters also engage feminist scholars of epistemology and the politics and labor of knowledge-production such as Patricia Hill-Collins. Each paper considers how women actively work to transform the social barriers that contribute to distorted views of themselves within popular culture and public discourse. The women we highlight in our work challenge hegemonic representations through alternative knowledge production as a form of self advocacy. Our work is a reflection of ongoing debates around the limits and possibilities of gendered knowledge, particularly women’s knowledge in the service of building a more equitable world.
Yesterday, three pieces I wrote or contributed to all showed up in my inbox within minutes of each other. They range from discussions in hip hop culture to participatory politics as resistance. See more below.
Your questions have me thinking about digital literacy and the assumptions people make about who has access to the Internet and what kinds of access they have. A lot more people of color access the Internet
through their cell phones, which can limit the types of digital platforms that are available to them. It impacts both people’s ability to participate at all and the types of digital participation that are possible. To echo Alexis, “deep and sustained analysis of the uneven ground on which participation takes place is also necessary.” I think part of this work is taking place on this thread.
Assimilation into the ruling class does not undo the structures that oppress people. For me, gay marriage is a distraction from issues that unite queer people with other marginalized folks. Dealing with the way that homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism, impact education, health care, housing, and employment would be a more useful endeavor than symbolic songs like “Same Love.” Marriage is an institution that affords people all kinds of benefits in our country and for me, the question is why those benefits are only available through this one act; why can’t everybody just have what they need, regardless of whether they are married or not?
Zenzele Isoke’s “’Why Am I Black?’ Women, Hip Hop, and Cultural Resistance in Dubai,” explores the ways that eight Black women in Dubai use their engagement within global hip hop culture to resist gender oppression in their own lives. Isoke’s interviews provide a window into the transformative power of music and what Patricia Hill Collins calls transversal politics that identify two similarly phenomena from different locations that can be discussed in tandem. I find this theoretical framework’s deployment refreshing as it attempts to add to our toolbox and give intersectionality a break from doing a lot of the heavy lifting for Black feminist thought. In my own work I too am interested in identifying new logics that provide more specificity in the ways we engage our scholarship.
Join Ayana Jamieson, adrienne maree brown, Walidah Imarisha, and me at the American Studies Association Conference in LA November 6-9 for Octavia Butler’s Wild Seeds: An Acorn Community Gathering!
As members of the Octavia Butler Legacy Network, we invite ASA participants to an Acorn community gathering and invocation in the spirit of Afrofuturist, MacArthur “Genius” Award winning author Octavia Butler’s visionary fiction. We are interested in creating a dynamic space for artists, activists, and academics that honor her legacy by shaping Change toward the alternate realities they wish to see.This session will be a participatory, pleasurable sensory experience as we undo the restrictive and often unproductive model of the traditional scholarly paper. Participants will be invited to engage in a voice-and-body centered strategy session that draws on the pleasure derived from holistic, intertextual readings of Butler’s fiction. Vehicles for desired relationships, chosen families, and interdependent communities are embedded in all of her work requiring symbiotic, radical engagements with the Sacred/Monstrous Other and a reevaluation of our own boundaries. Pleasure often transcends and disrupts the controlling images and rigid ways of being that exist in our world in favor of worlds that we can inhabit for fully whole. As an interdisciplinary incubator, this session invites those interested in exploring the pleasure and passion which drives their scholarship, activism, art, and cultural work in community with others while thinking through the ways in which Butler’s fiction provides opportunities to explore more embodied relationships to ourselves.
Keywords: Octavia Butler, Pleasure, Community
Chris Long and I before taping an episode of Digital Dialogue.
My article from the Queerness of Hip Hop Conference at Harvard is live! Message me if you want to read it but can’t because it isn’t open access. Thanks to conference organizers and guest editors Scott Poulson-Bryant and C. Riley Snorton for encouraging me to write it up!
I was also fortunate to be a featured guest on Chris Long’s podcast Digital Dialogue, where I discuss the article in depth. Take a listen here.
Audre Lorde tells us that naming is important. When she introduced herself as a “Black lesbian feminist mother warrior poet,” she was deliberately situating herself and her perspective in a context of co-constitutive identities. Nikki Finney says, “Repetition is holy.” Lorde’s continual refrain of her many identities became an incantation of protection in all the spaces she entered, grounding her and signaling to others who she was.
I identify as queer. When I call myself queer I do so with similar intention. My favorite definition of queerness comes from the ‘zine Towards the Queerest Insurrection :
[Q]ueer is not a stable area to inhabit. Queer is not merely another identity that can be tacked onto a list of neat social categories, nor the quantitative sum of our identities. Rather, it is the qualitative position of opposition to presentations of stability—an identity that problematizes the manageable limits of identity. Queer is a territory of tension, defined against the dominant narrative of white-hetero-monogamous-patriarchy, but also by an affinity with all who are marginalized, otherized, and oppressed. Queer is the abnormal, the strange, the dangerous. Queer involves our sexuality and our gender, but so much more. It is our desire and fantasies and more still. Queer is the cohesion of everything in conflict with the heterosexual capitalist world. Queer is a total rejection of the regime of the Normal.
It is this definition that motivates my consideration of who and what gets placed under the umbrella of queerness. I am concerned about the way queer is deployed in relation to hip hop because patriarchy, misogyny, capitalism, and other forms of kyriarchy often remain key ingredients in the lyrical production of artists purportedly queering the genre. I want to be deliberate in identifying phenomena that we see in hip hop that trouble our notions of what is imagined as the project of straightness, but also remain critical about the attachment of queer or queerness to that behavior.
In wanting to name the particular homosocial behavior of black men in American (U.S.) hip hop culture, I offer the term homolatent : “homo” to foreground the same gender orientation of the behavior and “latent” to foreshadow the “pathological” potential of queer desire’s rupture into the real. Additionally, afrofuturist Octavia Butler’s Patternist book series hosts characters with supernatural powers that are activated through a painful transition process. For those who are unable to transition successfully, their “latent” powers manifest as a penchant for violence and nihilistic destruction waged on those closest to them. The violent nature of homolatent interactions sets it apart from traditional nomenclature used to describe same-sex attraction. Unlike “queer,” “homosexual,” or “same gender loving,” homolatent attempts to address the abjection of desire.
I am excited to be heading to the National Women’s Studies Association Conference tomorrow to present my paper, “Bodies on Screen: Feminist Health Science Studies in Trans* and Queer of Color Digital Media.” I’ll be be joined by Emory University colleagues on our panel titled, “Screening the Body:” New Directions for Feminist Health Scholarship and Activism Through Engaging Popular Media.”
Check out our panel blurb and the blurb for my paper below. We are on for Saturday Evening, Nov. 9, 5:25-6:40 PM in the Duke Energy Convention Center, 204-AV. Join us! There will be pizza!
This panel borrows its title from a book of the same name by Lisa Cartwright (1995). The panel explores relationships between medicine, media and representations of the health care needs and histories of queer communities of color and women in the US. It also privileges the interrogation of popular representations of marginalized groups as the bodies of knowledge production in commercial biomedical discourse. Moya Bailey’s examination of the health promotion practices of queer people of color moves beyond mainstream media and engages alternative medium to challenge the narrowness of dominant health media and create community authored representations. Rachel Dudley explores the counter narratives of contemporary performance art that acknowledge the history of women of color in western biomedical innovation and that challenge mainstream celebrations of J. Marion Sims, the early gynecologist who honed his craft on enslaved women in the southern US. Sheri Davis-Faulkner introduces a new framework for media analysis that responds to mainstream health marketing by privileging black girls’ bodies and their corresponding narratives. Engaging the conference theme of body politics, this panel asks what kinds of new knowledges and critical disruptions are possible when we pivot our methodological and analytical frameworks and center marginalized communities.
My paper explores how marginalized groups use existing social media platforms to create new and alternate representations of themselves as a practice of health promotion, self-care, and wellness. These activities include trans* people of color creating YouTube videos of their transitions, masculine of center people creating their own health zine, and Black women using social media to organize for reproductive justice. Central to this activism are images that challenge mainstream depictions of marginalized groups. My scholarship explores the ways that controlling images and language impact the collective survival and health of people who are multiply marginalized.