In the final episode of our month-long miniseries for LGBT History Month, The Provocateur travels to Brazil, arguably one of the most important emerging markets at the moment as well as being a vibrant and dynamic country in its own right. While it may have hit the headlines most recently for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff – and the subsequent return to power of the main conservative faction in Congress, led by Michel Temer – Brazil also has a long and complicated history of colonialism, decolonisation and dictatorship. This has inevitably impacted on the ways in which LGBT people express their sexuality and how they are perceived by mainstream Brazilian society.
Today I talk to Bryan Pitts, a lecturer in history at the University of Georgia, for a fascinating look at the interplay of race, sexuality, nationality and democracy in contemporary Brazil. We discuss the historical context of the dictatorship years of 1964-1985 and the transition to democracy, the legacies of Portuguese rule, the thesis that sexual liberalisation has gone along with political liberalisation and the particular challenges facing transgendered people. We also talk about Bryan’s research on Brazilian gay magazines and gay sex tourism.
As LGBT History Month draws to a close, it seems like a good time to turn the spotlight onto the idea of LGBT history and in particular the politics of representing LGBT people in a public forum. Archaeology, anthropology, heritage studies, museum studies and historiography have all undergone a reflexive shift in recent years that pays attention to the practice of history, the people whom history is for and moreover the problem of whose history is represented. The place of LGBT people in these debates is particularly interesting because it involves histories that are often private, hidden and sexually explicit, which raises the question of whether LGBT heritage should be publicised at all and if so how it should be publicised. Cultural management of LGBT heritage often involves state intervention, which also implies state endorsement of progressive attitudes to sexuality which can rub up against certain objections (religious or otherwise) to the use of public money in this way.
In this fourth episode of The Provocateur‘s special miniseries for LGBT History Month, I talk to Kyle Lee-Crossett, a PhD candidate in Heritage Studies at University College London, to disentangle these complex issues. We discuss the problems of representing sexuality in museums and public collections, the question of whether diversity and inclusion practices empower LGBT people or oppress them, the institutionalisation of LGBT history and the consequences for the ways in which LGBT people view themselves, before finally looking ahead to prospects for the future of the museum and the position of LGBT people in it.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Key introductory articles:
Blackmore, C. (2011) ‘How to Queer the Past Without Sex: Queer Theory, Feminisms and the Archaeology of Identity’, Archaeologies 7, pp. 75–96.
Eng, D., J. Halberstam and E. Muñoz (2005) ‘What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?’ Social Text 23(3-4), pp 1-17. DOI: 10.1215/01642472-23-3-4_84-85-1
Mills, R. (2008) ‘Theorizing the Queer Museum’, Museums & Social Issues [online] 3(1). pp 41-52. DOI: 10.1179/msi.2008.3.1.41
Freeman, E. (2010) Time Binds: queer temporalities, queer histories. Durham: Duke University Press.
Love, H. (2007) Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Muñoz, J. (1996) ‘Ephemera as Evidence: Introductory Notes to Queer Acts’, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 8(2), pp. 5-16. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012. doi:10.1080/07407709608571228.
Queering archives and museums:
Arondekar, A. (2015) ‘In the Absence of Reliable Ghosts: Sexuality, Historiography, South Asia’, differences:A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, [online] 25 (5). pp. 98-112. DOI: 10.1215/10407391-2847964
Cvetkovitch, A. (2003) An Archive of Feeling: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Culture. Duke University Press: Durham and London
Manalansan, M. (2014) ‘The “Stuff” of Archives: Mess, Migration, and Queer Lives’, Radical History Review 120, pp. 94-106.
Morris, C., and Rawson, K. (2013) ‘Queer Archives/Archival Queers’, in Ballif, M., (ed.) 2013. Theorizing Histories of Rhetoric. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, p 74-89.
Nguyen, M.T. (2015) ‘Minor Threats’, Radical History Review 122, pp. 11–24. 10.1215/01636545-2849495
Sheffield, R. (2014) ‘The Bedside Table Archives: Archive Interventions and Lesbian Intimate Domestic Culture’, Radical History Review 120, pp. 108-129. DOI: 10.1215/01636545-2703751
Steorn, P. (2012) ‘Curating Queer Heritage: Queer Knowledge and Museum Practice’, Digital 55(3). pp 355-365. DOI: 10.1111/j.2151-6952.2012.00159.x
Queer memory and memory politics:
Blair, C., and N. Michel (2007) ‘The AIDS Memorial Quilt and the Contemporary Culture of Public Commemoration’, Rhetoric & Public Affairs 10(4), pp. 595-626. DOI: 10.1353/rap.2008.0024
Boyd, N. A. (2005) Wide-open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Crage, S. and E. Armstrong (2006) ‘Movements and Memory: The Making of the Stonewall Myth’, American Sociological Review 71(5), pp 724-751. DOI:10.1177/000312240607100502
Drysdale, K. (2014) ‘When Scenes Fade: Methodological lessons from Sydney’s drag king culture’, Cultural Studies 29(3), pp 1-18. DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2014.937939
Dunn, T. (2011) ‘Remembering “A Great Fag”: Visualizing Public Queer Memory and the Construction of Queer Space’, Quarterly Journal of Speech 97(4), pp 435-460. DOI: 10.1080/00335630.2011.585168
Jones, C. (2007) ‘A Vision of the Quilt’, Rhetoric & Public Affairs 10(4). pp 575-579. DOI: 10.1353/rap.2008.0033
Lamble, S. (2008) ‘Retelling Racialized Violence, Remaking White Innocence: The Politics of Interlocking Oppressions in Transgender Day of Remembrance’, Sexuality Research & SocialPolicy 5(1), pp. 24-42. DOI: 10.1525/srsp.2008.5.1.24
Morris, C. (2007) ‘Introduction: The Mourning After’, Rhetoric and Public Affairs 10(4), pp. 557-574. DOI: 10.1353/rap.2008.0028
Rubin, G. (2004) ‘The Catacombs: A Temple of the Butthole’, in Thompson, M. (ed.) Leatherfolk: Radical Sex, People, Politics, and Practice. Los Angeles: Daedalus Publishing, pp. 119-141.
Today The Provocateur continues its miniseries for LGBT History Month with a special episode to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which decriminalised same-sex intercourse between consenting male adults in England and Wales. Since the Act was passed we have witnessed great strides in the acceptance of LGBT people in the UK but also a backlash against said visibility. This was especially true from the 1980s to the mid-1990s, which saw the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the enforcement of Section 28, a law which explicitly banned the teaching of homosexuality in English, Welsh and Scottish state schools.
In this episode I interview Hannah Telling, a PhD student in History at the University of Glasgow, to discuss the historical context of the Sexual Offences Act, the legal and political complexities of the Scottish exemption from the Act, the changing climate for LGBT people in Britain since the Act and continuing challenges to LGBT rights progress.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Note: Cllr Tom Hayes of Oxford City Council is looking for gay men with a pre-1967 Oxford connection to tell their stories about gay life in the city before decriminalisation. For more information go to http://bit.ly/fiftyyearsoxford.
Cook, M. (2007) ‘From Gay Reform to Gaydar, 1967-2006’, in Cook, M. (ed.) A Gay History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Men since the Middle Ages. Oxford: Greenwood World Publishing.
Davidson, R. and G. Davis (2006) ‘Sexuality and the State: the Campaign for Scottish Homosexual Law Reform, 1967-1980’, Contemporary British History 20(4), pp. 533-558.
Jeffrey-Poulter, S. (1991) Peers, Queers and Commons: The Struggle for Gay Reform from 1950 to the Present. London: Routledge.
Jivani, A. (1997) It’s Not Unusual: A History of Lesbian and Gay Britain in the Twentieth Century. London: Michael O’Mara Books.
Meek, J. (2015) Queer Voices in Post-War Scotland: Male Homosexuality, Religion and Society. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Weeks, J. (2016) Coming Out: The Emergence of LGBT Identities in Britain from the 19th Century to the Present. London: Quartet Books.
In the second of a short run of episodes focusing on LGBT topics for LGBT History Month, The Provocateur talks to Philip Freestone, a PhD candidate in Linguistics at the University of Reading, about discourses of marriage and sexuality among men who have sex with men (MSMs) in contemporary mainland China. In particular, we focus on Philip’s interest in the recent explosion of matchmaking websites that set up marriages of convenience between non-heterosexual men and women and the ways in which this phenomenon reflects culturally ingrained understandings of homosexuality. Among other things, we discuss Confucian ideals of marriage and how they restrict non-normative sexual expression; the tension between public indifference towards homosexuality and private shame; the consequences of the one-child policy for the marriage market; and the potential for homosexual and bisexual men to exploit the traditional archetype of the effeminate scholar in Chinese conceptions of masculinity in order to contest heteronormativity.
You can listen to the podcast here:
If you are interested in getting in touch with Phil, feel free to email him at: P.J.Freestone@pgr.reading.ac.uk.
Altman, D. (1997) ‘Global Gaze/Global Gays’, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 3(4), pp. 417-436.
In the first episode in a multi-part miniseries for LGBT History Month, The Provocateur talks to author and critic Michael Amherst about his forthcoming and as-yet-untitled book on bisexuality and the problems of representing bisexuality in society. We discuss issues such as bisexual erasure in contemporary culture, bisexuality as a continual process of ‘not knowing’ one’s sexuality and the complexities of categorising sexuality: should it be based on sex object choice or the sex act itself? Is sexuality political to the extent that those outside the norm of heterosexuality must describe themselves in the language of politics?
You can listen to the podcast here:
Note: This programme contains strong language.
Baldwin, J. (2014) The Last Interview and Other Conversations. New York: Melville House.
Goodman, P. (1972) Speaking and Language: Defence of Poetry. London: Random House.
____ (1994) Crazy Hope & Finite Experience: Final Essays of Paul Goodman, ed. T. Stoehr. Gestalt Press.
Halperin, D. (1990) One Hundred Years of Homosexuality. London: Routledge.
Munoz, J. E. (1994) Disidentifications: Queens of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Phillips, A. (2012) Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life. London: Hamish Hamilton.
Ward, J. (2015) Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men. New York: New York University Press.
Amid all the fallout from Donald Trump’s highly controversial restrictions on immigrants from several majority Muslim countries, another significant announcement from the White House has largely escaped media attention: the decision to restart construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline. This proposal triggered a wave of protests in the latter half of 2016, particularly around the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Campaigners argued that the pipeline represented a threat to the sovereignty of the indigenous peoples living on the reservation, particularly in terms of the environmental hazards that such a pipeline could unleash. However, what is often missing from the popular conversation on Aboriginal sovereignty movements is an understanding of the way in which the state has constructed a certain conception of citizenship that enables indigenous peoples to value their sovereignty over arguably more meaningful goods, such as socioeconomic opportunities.
In today’s episode of The Provocateur, I talk to Benjamin Studebaker, a doctoral candidate in politics at the University of Cambridge, about the relationship between indigenous peoples, the state and citizenship. We develop some of the themes from his blog post discussing the issue of Native American sovereignty and link them to broader issues to do with the ways in which states legitimate themselves by allowing different citizens to want different values and the resultant implications for indigenous policy when these values conflict. Ben has also kindly provided some outline notes, which I reproduce below.
You can listen to the podcast here:
I. Many different views of citizenship—of what it is that citizens share in common that makes them citizens (liberalism, republicanism, civic nationalism, ethnic nationalism, identitarianism, pluralism vs. Pluralism). All of these views tend to presume that people have things that they want to get out of citizenship and they build states for these purposes—people use the state to get power and use that power to construct a kind of citizenship which reflects their values and beliefs.
II. But people are not free in this way—their identity and beliefs are not individualistically chosen, they are instead acquired through interaction with material and social conditions. Who is ultimately responsible for those conditions? The sovereign entity—the state.
III. States need to legitimate themselves to secure stability. They will be recognized as legitimate when citizens want the things that states provide. So successful states will tend to create citizens whose desires and expectations match the state’s capabilities.
IV. In cases of inequality, states must be pluralist to some degree—they must create different kinds of citizens whose desires and expectations can be met in different and unequal ways. Pluralism also has other adaptive advantages—if all citizens want the same thing, it is easier to satisfy them, but to fail one citizen is to fail all of them, which means that when states do fail the failure is total and often fatal. In a pluralist society, states can satisfy enough people enough of the time by constantly cobbling together different coalitions of satisfied groups. However, this pluralism allows some groups to be persistently neglected by the state—especially anti-pluralists.
V. With respect to indigenous people, the state attempts to pacify them by socializing them to want what they get. So if Native Americans are going to live on separate reservations with some level of autonomy (but under grossly unequal socioeconomic conditions), they must be made to value the kinds of goods they can have—cultural purity and autonomy, not material prosperity. But this autonomy and culture are mirages—the state created them to see these constructs as valuable and then supplied them with conditions under which they can be realized. In the meantime, it creates other citizens with entirely different values which it enables them to actualize under entirely different conditions.
Beiner, R. (ed.) (1994) Theorizing Citizenship. New York: SUNY Press.
Lukes, S. (1974) Power: A Radical View. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Parfit, D. (2011) On What Matters, 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rawls, J. (1993) Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.
Strawson, G. (2011) Freedom and Belief. Oxford: Oxford University Press.