Quare Are We Now?: The Time And Place Of Black Queer And Trans Studies

Quare Are We Now?: The Time And Place Of Black Queer And Trans Studies

Wednesday, April 3, 2019
6:00 PM 8:00 PM

MIT Building 1 Room 190 33 Massachusetts Ave 02139

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.