Ordinary Intersections: Speculations on Difference, Justice, and Utopia in Black Queer Life

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The presentation draws on three ordinary scenes from black queer life to reexamine Kimberle Crenshaw's groundbreaking articulation of intersectionality. The first scene describes the July 2000 murder of black gay Arthur “J.R.” Warren by two young white men in Grant Town, West Virginia. The second scene comes from my autoethnographic work in the virtual sexual counterpublics in Austin, Texas and a startlingly concrete encounter with online racism. The third scene comes from Phoenix Fabrik, a play by Daniel Alexander Jones, which explores the thrill and terror of loss and revenge in the aftermath of a lynching. Difference, pleasure, and violence are in each of these examples profoundly imbricated in ways that challenge established theoretical conventions for making sense of racial and sexual subjectivities and communities. While notions of the everyday and of intersectionality have performed powerful analytic work for anthropologists, they falter precisely when they attempt to make coherent the heady confluence of uneven, disruptive, and banal imaginings, forces, and longings that comprise “the ordinary.” The presentation therefore argues for more nuanced theoretical conceptions of intersectionality and of the ordinary not out of a desire for a new and improved or more robust theory of difference, but as an initial, tentative, and partial effort toward doing justice to the complexity and the promise of the lives we as social scientists attempt to explain.


Keywords: Black, Queer, Ordinary, Affect
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Shaka McGlotten

Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Media, Society, and the Arts, Natural and Social Sciences, Purchase College
New York, New York, USA

My research focuses on the intersection of three areas: race, desire, and technoscience. Disciplinarily, I am invested in anthropology and cultural studies, as well as critical race and queer studies. And intellectually I am heavily influenced by critical theory, especially French poststructuralism. In my work, I seek to make links between the abstract and the concrete in studies of racial violence, sexual counterpublics, and virtual intimacies. I have conducted ethnographic work on public sex and on cyberspace. Currently, I am pursuing projects on queer publics, including an examination of rural gay and lesbian communities. I continue as well my research into the saturation of ordinary life by computer technologies, considering among other things, virtual spaces such as Second Life and World of Warcraft.

Ref: I08P0357