Promiscuous Interdisciplinarity, Part 3: Queer Movements: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Social Movement Era

AHA Session 59
Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History 3
Friday, January 2, 2015: 3:30 PM-5:30 PM
Conference Room E (Sheraton New York, Lower Level)
Emily Thuma, University of California, Irvine
The Seventies, Sexuality, and the Profusion of Entangled Events
Roderick Ferguson, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Left Out: Situating Stigma in U.S. Radical and Left Social Movement History
Christina B. Hanhardt, University of Maryland at College Park
Rules of the Craft: Apophasis and Occult Politics in the Gay Liberation Movement
Abram J. Lewis, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Session Abstract

This panel is intended to be part of the Committee on LGBT History's "Promiscuous Interdisciplinarity" special track of programming. 

This roundtable discussion assembles scholars doing interdisciplinary work on the social movement era to consider how nontraditional approaches to studying the past can productively “queer” recent histories of U.S. political organizing—both within LGBT activism and beyond. Presenters will ask: how is the social movement era queer, in the sense that it exploded norms of political thought and action, proliferated activist entanglements with cultural forms, even rendered indeterminate the boundaries of “politics” itself? These talks especially highlight how the subjects of social movements circulated promiscuously, resisting containment within any single register of identity or analysis. Accordingly, central to these presentations is an interest in what kinds of objects become readily intelligible to LGBT and social movement histories, and what experiences and interfaces are eclipsed by traditional disciplinary methodologies. By centering the diffuse political cross-pollinations of this era, we seek to attend to varieties of being and action that do not tidily fit into territorializing narratives of empowerment and progress, or into familiar rubrics of sexual identity and social reform. This discussion calls for an intersectional historiography of queer politics that accounts for disparate social and political trajectories, both major and minor, including histories of the New Left, Black Power and Civil Rights, social policy, musical cultures, and religious movements. Roderick Ferguson will discuss how post-Civil Rights black queer diasporas imbricate formal political histories of sexual, racial and gender justice with the cultural legacies of funk and disco. Dayo Gore turns to the historiographically fraught figure of Pauli Murray to engage the elisions and excesses of midcentury politics, and to explore what social interstices might better account for her life. By centering how social movements have historically incorporated and disciplined forms of sexual and social deviance, Christina Hanhardt will examine how certain stigmatized populations challenge progressive historiographies as well as normative liberal agendas of rehabilitation, self- and social improvement. Bringing theories of the occult and negative theology to bear on post-Stonewall lesbian and gay organizing, Abram J. Lewis will consider how queer religious activism offers unique challenges to secular, rationalist, and empiricist historical methodologies.

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