Cause it do be about living. It be about all of us living together.
Dealing with each other. Loving each other.
-Sonia Sanchez, a/needed/poem for my salvation
I returned to the academy to elaborate, clarify, and work through questions concerning how we, queer working-class womyn of color, are to organize today given our current political moment, the conditions of our communities, and the state of resistance and liberation movements in the United States. I yearned for the time and space to be able to rigorously, thoughtfully, and unapologetically engage knowledge creation to build my own analysis—or to delve deeper into what Gloria Anzaldúa named as conocimiento in this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation. Moreover, it is important to me to create knowledge that travels, reaches, and forms connection with other creatures. This is to say, I aim to formulate knowledge that is rooted in my own experiential specificity but extends through and beyond my identities to build bridges, and bolster a shared analysis and vision for larger radical and transformative grassroots movements. Anna Tsing offers in the introduction of Friction: an ethnography of global connection,“The knowledge that makes a difference in changing the world is knowledge that travels and mobilizes, shifting and creating new forces and agents of history in its path” (p.8).I would posit the value of knowledge that also organizes, not only mobilizes. I see my current task to be one of becoming a more effective, self-aware, mindful and informed facilitator of local grassroots social movement building based in Baltimore, MD.
Engaging in this task in the space of the neoliberal public university such as the University of Maryland, I acknowledge that the academy, like all institutions, is ridden with problematic and death-dealing practices and ideologies. Nevertheless, I trust that I can carve out a space and forge relationships for love, meaning, and justice making. Therefore, perhaps, it is not surprising that this semester’s readings implore me to transverse on familiar and new paths (for instance, notions of inter-being and erotic) for theorizing grassroots organizing to collectively undo state-sanctioned violence and collective holistic liberations. Continue reading “Theorizing the Politics of Interconnectivity for Transformative Grassroots Organizing (Lenora Knowles)”
From Postcolonial to Decolonial:
Examining Complicites in Transnational Queerdom and Imagining Decolonial Futures
In 2009, R. Raj Rao, India’s famous LGBT activist and author of The Boyfriend, claimed regarding Indian academia: “It’s strange how the academic fraternity that has always been quick to accept all kinds of literature — Marxist, feminist, Dalit — had a huge reservation when it came to queer literature. For years, the Board of Studies refused to let us start the course saying that ‘Indian students do not need it’. Finally we clubbed it with Dalit literature and started it under the genre of Alternative Literature.” While Rao is correct in exposing the reluctance of academia in accepting queer literature as worthy of analysis, his solution—of clubbing queer literature with Dalit literature—assumes not only how these literatures are aesthetically or politically similar, but also that the marginalization of queerness in the South Asian postcolony is similar to caste-based violence. His argument grossly ignores how postcolonial queer literature, while dealing with subversive subjects who do not fit into heteronormativity, often draws on lives of middle-class or middle-upper class characters; it also ignores how queer and feminist South Asian literature is often classist, casteist, and complicit in neocolonial notions of gender and sexuality. Rao’s dangerous claims regarding the lumping together of queer and Dalit literatures demonstrate how subaltern issues have been appropriated to lay claims to sexual oppression, while reproducing class and caste-based hegemony. Keeping in mind this dangerous conflation of “queer” with “subaltern,” my paper explores decolonial sexualities by recognizing postcolonial queer complicities in the violence of globalization. How do we create decolonial sexual futures, how do we de-link our current understanding of our sexualities from colonial logics, and how we re-imagine our remembrance of the past all the while remaining cognizant of the complicity of postcolonial representations and frameworks in neocolonial impulses? At the heart of my paper is the debate between postcolonial or transnational queer studies, and decolonial queer theory.