Ordinary Intersections: Speculations on Difference, Justice, and Utopia in Black Queer Life
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
Dr. Shaka McGlotten
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Media, Society, and the Arts, Natural and Social Sciences, Purchase College