Fall 2012

A New Queer Agenda

a launch party for Scholar & Feminist Online

September 19, Wednesday
6 to 8 pm

Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
20 Cooper Square
, 4th floor

A New Queer Agenda, a special double issue of The Scholar and Feminist Online (issue 10.1-10.2, Fall 2011/Spring 2012 (guest edited by Joseph N. DeFilippis, Lisa Duggan, Kenyon Farrow and Richard Kim), proposes a new set of issues for a revitalized queer movement with a global democratic vision, reaching across lines of race, ethnicity, gender and gender expression, class, religion, and nationality. The writers of the essays, documents, and interviews collected in this volume are all activists from across the country; they are visionary thinkers who are community organizers, journalists, social workers, writers, academics, lawyers, advocates, and counselors. Most of them have worked with the nonprofit Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ)—either as staff, board members, volunteers, or as colleagues at other social justice organizations with whom QEJ has worked closely. All of them share QEJ’s vision of seeking common ground and coalition with the full range of social justice organizations, rather than trying to determine what is a specifically “gay” issue.

Religious Exemptions, Sexual Freedom, and the Biopolitics of U.S. Healthcare

an afternoon symposium

October 5, Friday
1 to 6 pm

Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics
20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor

Confirmed Participants:
Khiara M. Bridges, Boston University
Elizabeth A. Castelli, Barnard College
Katherine Franke, Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School
Janet R. Jakobsen, Barnard Center for Research on Women, Barnard College
Louise Melling, Deputy Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union
Ann Neumann, Editor, The Revealer and journalist
Ann Pellegrini, New York University
Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Religious Studies, Indiana University Bloomington
Lois Uttley, MergerWatch

In the immediate aftermath of Roe v Wade and the legalization of abortion nation-wide, in 1973, the US Congress passed the first of what would become an expanding series of “religious exemptions” or “conscience clauses.” These exemptions allow providers of healthcare to refuse to permit otherwise legal medical services or procedures, because they violate the religious beliefs or “conscience” of the medical provider. In the intervening years, the range of issues covered by religious exemptions has expanded to include same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex parents as well as the removal of feeding tubes and other end of life care issues. The frame for this one-day symposium is the broad array of constitutional, public policy, political, and ethical issues implicated in the practice of religious exemptions in both federal law and US states. The timing of the symposium – on the heels of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on the affordable care act; in the midst of a general election campaign in which health care, reproductive rights, and same-sex marriage remain profoundly divisive issues; and just months before the 40th anniversary of Roe – makes this discussion all the more urgent.

Obama, Neoliberalism, and the 2012 Election: Why We Want More than Same-Sex Marriage

a talk by Cathy J. Cohen


Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
20 Cooper Square
, 4th Floor

Cathy J. Cohen, Political Science, University of Chicago

On May 9, 2012 President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage. It was the first time a sitting president in the United States had made such a declaration. His new stance in support ofsame-sex marriage marked an evolution in President Obama’s position. The President’s new stand on same-sex marriage also re-ignited a debate or complaint heard repeatedly in black communities regarding the administration’s willingness to respond to other marginal communities, especially the gay and lesbian community, while largely ignoring the specific or targeted needs of black people, in particular those most vulnerable in black communities. In this talk I will argue that the nature or character of the demands emanating from each community has played a significant role in the perceived accountability of the administration. Specifically, much of what the Obama administration has provided to other marginal communities, in particular the most visible policy wins of the gay and lesbian agenda, are policies and programs that are deeply rooted in and preserve the structurallegitimacy and order of neoliberalism. These policies are markedly different from the type of policy interventions called for from many in black communities, interventions that challenge the logic of neoliberalsim and demand a significant shift in resources.

Queer Asia: Performing Global Diaspora

the first in the series Globally Queer?

October 18, Thursday
6 to 8 pm

Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

Chair/Moderator/Comment: Gayatri Gopinath, Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University

Bright Lights, Gay Globality: Queer World-making in Metropolitan Manila
Bobby Benedicto, The Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry

Tropic Spells: Performing Queer Encounters in the Asias
Eng-Beng Lim, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Brown University

Bobby Benedicto is a Fellow at the Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry. He received his PhD in Cultural Studies from the University of Melbourne, where he has also lectured on queer cinema, Asian cultural studies, and postcolonial feminist theory. His research on technologies of mobility and contemporary queer world-making practices in Metropolitan Manila has appeared in journals such as GLQ, The Journal of Homosexuality, and Asian Studies Review, among others. Bobby’s broader research interests include experimental ethnographic methods, third world cities and architecture, and imaginative geographies. He is presently working on a new project examining the queer uses of dictatorship architecture, based on the recent conversion of Marcos-era modernist structures into sites of Filipino queer performance.

Eng-Beng Lim is Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University where he is also an affiliate faculty member of American Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, East Asian Studies and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. He has published in various anthologies and journals, such as Performance in the Border/lands, Neoliberalism and Performance, Theatre Journal, Asian Theatre Journal, and Social Text where he a member of the editorial collective. He is currently completing two projects, Tropic Spell: Performance in the Queer Asias (forthcoming, NYU Press), and Performing the Global University.

Gayatri Gopinath is Associate Professor and Director of the A/P/A Studies Program in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. She is the author of Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures (Duke University Press, 2005), and has published numerous articles on gender, sexuality and South Asian diasporic culture in various anthologies and in journals such as GLQ, Social Text, positions, and Diaspora.

Killing Me Softly with Your Rights: Iranian Transgender Refugees and the Politics of Death

a talk by Sima Shakhsari

This talk scheduled for October 30th has been canceled due to inclement weather.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

Sima Shakhsari, Women’s and Gender Studies, Wellesley College

Co-sponsored by the NYU Iranian Studies Initiative and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.

Exploring Gay Men’s Life Experiences at the Intersections of Gender, Sexuality & Class

a Brown Bag Lunch Talk with Gavin Jack

November 9, Friday
12:30 to 1:45 pm

Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality
41-51 East 11th Street, Room 741

(wheelchair access at 85-87 University Place)

Gavin Jack, CSGS Visiting Scholar, La Trobe University, Australia

It is often suggested that the intersection of social class and sexuality is under-researched. That said, a closer look at multidisciplinary LGBTQ scholarship (covering inter alia gay and lesbian history and urban studies, sociology and social work, subcultural analysis, literature and literary criticism) does surface an appreciation and critical inquiry into the manner in which gay male life reproduces and is organized along class divisions, closely entwined with those of gender, race and nation. The talk will outline and discuss work-in-progress on synthesizing this scholarship and translating it into a research project on gay men’s life experiences at the intersections of gender, sexuality and class. I will focus on the insights and shortcomings of the work I have read thus far, highlighting key theoretical or conceptual questions for open discussion and reflection. I will also present an outline of some tentative steps towards an empirical study based on life history methodology.

Bring your lunch — we’ll provide beverages and dessert!

Gavin Jack is Professor of Management in the Business School, La Trobe University, Australia. He has a Bachelor’s degree in International Business & Languages and a PhD in international management/organization studies from Heriot-Watt University, Scotland. Located within critical management studies, Gavin’s interdisciplinary research interests include: the application of postcolonial theory and analysis to the study of management and marketing; critical, cultural understandings of international, cross-cultural and diversity management; theoretical analyses and ethnographic studies of consumption and consumer culture; more recent interests in the intersection of social class and sexuality.

“No One Leaves Delliah”: A (W)rap on Race

a conversation with Dr. Vaginal Davis

November 13, Tuesday
7 to 9 pm

Department of Performance Studies
721 Broadway, 6th Floor, Room 612

Vaginal Davis, performance artist

in conversation with José Muñoz, Performance Studies, New York University

(rescheduled from October 31)

“Legalizing Eroticism”: Masochism, Pleasure, and Queer Spectatorship in Mexican ‘Rumbera’ Films (1940s-1950s)

a talk by Laura G. Gutiérrez

November 29, Thursday
6:30 to 8:30 pm

Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

Laura G. Gutiérrez, Spanish and Portuguese, University of Arizona

This presentation examines a number of cinematic texts that belong to a corpus of films from the so-called Golden-Age of Mexican cinema that starred mostly foreign-born dancers and actresses. These women were dubbed and are still remembered as rumberas. Thus, the hundreds of films produced during the Miguel Alemán presidency (1946-1952) earned the category of cine de rumberas. Taking my cues from Ana López’s foundational essay on women and melodrama, where she discusses those “female” melodramas whose narratives transpire outside of the domestic space—i.e. the cabaret—I examine these films as being the first ones to challenge head-on Pre-Revolutionary sexual mores, which, until then, remained pretty much intact. For this particular presentation I examine the ways in which these rumberas opened up a space for discussions of female sexuality in the Mexican context; they do so via their embodied performances, which contained high doses of gyrating hips and ample pelvic thrusts that not only seduced male characters in the films, but also their intra-diegetic and extra-diegetic publics, both male and female. My presentation examines how these rumberas seduced their multiple publics during a moment in history when rigid gender roles and sexual systems of the bourgeoisie were still the norm, which, through these films, were challenged for the first time in the cultural sphere. Following Linda William’s provocation to think about the notion of “screen” as both revealing and concealing, during this period a certain set of conventions were deployed to represent sex, sexuality, and/or desire. Within this cinematic structure, dancing and other corporeal movements enacted by these rumberas in the cabarets and other locales, could stand-in for sex or, at the very least, signify sexuality and desire. And, if we follow cultural critic Carlos Monsiváis’s description of these films within Mexican film history, the rumbera films represent a moment in which “eroticism was legalized.” Thus, these intra-texual corporeal movements, dancistic or otherwise, and however momentarily, do much to undo for the spectator’s Catholic indoctrinations about sex and sexuality in post-revolutionary Mexico. The relationship established between the dancers and their publics produces a tension for the onlooker, both within and outside the film’s frames, that can be described as masochistic desire and pleasure. Moreover, this presentation gestures towards a theory of queer spectatorship practices during Mexico’s cinematic classic period, which is thought to be highly nationalist and heterosexist. However, I also argue that this queer spectatorship is problematically enabled via the use of Afro-Antillean rhythms, movements, and elements, all displaced on white, yet non-Mexican (i.e. Cuban) bodies.

Laura G. Gutiérrez (PhD University of Wisconsin 2000) is associate professor & director of graduate studies of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Arizona. Her research and teaching interests include: Mexican Visual Culture, Latin American and Latina/o Performance Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Latin American Popular Culture. In spring 2012 she received the Provost’s General Education Teaching Award. She is the author of Performing Mexicanidad: Vendidas y Cabareteras on the Transnational Stage (U of Texas P, 2010), winner of the 9th Annual MLA Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies. Gutiérrez has also published essays in journals Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy, Spectator, Studies in Latin American Popular Culture, Latin American Literary Review, Feminist Media Studies; and chapters in the following books: Global Mexican Cultural Productions, Cartografías Queer: Sexualidades y Activismo LGBT en América Latina, Latino and Latina Writers, Velvet Barrios: Popular Culture & Chicana/o Sexualities. She is currently writing a book under the working title Rumberas in Motion (Pictures): Transnational Movements in the Archive of Mexican ‘Classic’ Cinema. She is on the advisory boards of The Tepoztlán Institute for the Transnational History of the Americas and Freedom University.

What’s Gaga Got to do With It? Gaga Feminism and Queer Anarchy

a talk by J. Jack Halberstam

December 11, Tuesday
6:30 to 8 pm

Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

J. Jack Halberstam, American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California

In Gaga Feminism, Jack Halberstam locates Lady Gaga as less an icon than an avatar for new forms of gender and sex politics. The power of “gaga” bubbles up from surrealist movements of the 1920’s to situationist happenings in the 1960’s and then takes the shape of queer anarchist politics in our unfolding present. This talk traces “gaga” back to earlier musical and political moments of going gaga and forward to occupation movements and direct action groups, and finally asks what, if anything, Lady Gaga has to do with feminism, queer studies or anarchism.

Halberstam will be preceded by a brief history of queer performance in New York City by Victor P. Corona, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Hofstra University. Corona is currently writing a book that traces a social and aesthetic lineage from the Warhol Superstars to the Club Kids and the current generation of performers, artists and nightlife personas in New York.

J. Jack Halberstam is Professor of English at the University of Southern California. Halberstam is the author of five books — Female Masculinity, The Drag King Book, Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives, and most recently The Queer Art of Failure (Duke UP, 2011) and Gaga Feminism (Beacon Press, 2012) — and numerous articles, and the editor of several volumes. Halberstam teaches in Gender Studies and American Studies and Ethnicity at USC and is currently writing and reading about new ways of unbeing human.

For more information about this event, please contact the NYU Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at 212-992-9650.

Depression: A Public Feeling

a talk by Ann Cvetkovich

December 13, Thursday
6 to 8 pm

Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

Ann Cvetkovick, English, University of Texas at Austin

Introduction by Cristina Beltran, Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University