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We are the queer groups, the people that don't belong anywhere, not in the dominant world nor completely within our own respective cultures. Combined we cover so many oppressions. But the overwhelming oppression is the collective fact that we do not fit, and because we do not fit we are a threat. (Anzaldúa, “La Prieta”)
It’s a truism that progressive politics are often limited by insufficient attention to actual lived experience and to issues of difference. Certainly, writer/critics from Anzaldúa to Michael Warner, from Terry Castle to Erica Rand to AnaLouise Keating have pointed to the killing kindness of institutionalized multiculturalism. The paternalistic, assimilationist bent of mainstream liberal politics relies on an erasure of difference; the goal is to give everyone “a seat at the table,” and in order to occupy that “seat,” one needs to be quiet, behave, get along, and trust the system that bought the dining set. To be authorized in the system means to accept one’s “authoring” by the system. In our scholarly work, this “authoring” takes on a particular weight, since we live or die professionally by our ability to immerse ourselves in language, to think critically about discourse. We are not, however, often called upon to reflect on the bodies through which such discourse is mediated, controlled, foiled, and itself further provoked.
Such a call, when it happens, comes at us blindly; a senior scholar dismisses our important work in queer theory as "irrelevant" to the purpose of our field; a conference on liberatory politics and pedagogy offers no sessions focused specifically on queer concerns, or schedules the few queer sessions against each other; our national organization doesn't consider sexuality as necessary a marker of "diversity" as other identity markers; a dean tells us that maybe our program might tone down the "sexuality" part of a women's studies program. We find ourselves banding together in small volunteer-driven groups--a facebook group here, a queer caucus here, a google group yet somewhere else. Rather than
visible, we must always already
visible lest we be erased from our own fields.
With this wiki, we hope to put forward different experiences of “visibility” and “invisibility” within the public and private spaces of our several fields, exploring what work our being (un)seen performs. Each of us, because of research specialty and/or sexual orientation, can find or construct a visible space here, a space in which to be “seen” talking about sex, power, and politics--and in so doing, we might exercise some writerly control of that (in)visibility. --Jacqueline Rhodes and Ellen Gil-Gómez
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