Big thanks to Robert Nichols for interviewing me for the journal, Upping the Anti. You can read the interview here. Also, the N.Y.U. Review of Law and Social Change just published a symposium issue about the Perry v. Brown same-sex marriage litigation. I have an article in it about pinkwashing. I also recommend you check out articles by Andrea Ritchie, Gabriel Arkles, and many more.
The amazing and generous Morgan Ztardust has translated my introduction to the new Against Equality book about hate crime law critiques into Spanish. Thanks, Morgan! You can read it here.
The new Against Equality book, Prisons Will Not Protect You, has been published! I wrote an introduction for it which I’ve posted here.
I’m co-teaching a class this semester with Prof. Katherine Franke about the law of occupation and colonialism. The class looks at the occupation of Palestine, US colonialism in Guam, Puerto Rico, North America, Hawaii and the Marshall Islands, the US occupation of Iraq, and more. You can see the syllabus here.
I also wanted to share a new review of Normal Life by Ro Velasquez Guzman in Shameless magazine, and a new blogpost I wrote for SRLP’s blog about how recent debates about gun control and mental health relate to trans politics and criminalization. Finally, HUGE THANKS to Morgan Ztardust for translating “For Lovers and Fighters” in Spanish. The translation is here.
This coming Friday and Saturday I’m heading to Los Angeles for a conference that marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the 10th anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas. In advance of the conference, speakers were asked to write blog posts related to the themes of the conference panels we are participating in. These were posted to the Balkinization blog. I thought I’d re-post what I wrote here as well:
Sexual freedom, legal equality and settler colonialism
In recent weeks, the world has been captivated by the emergence of the Idle No More
movement. Indigenous people and their allies in Canada and around the world have been engaging in a wave of protest actions. These protests, which include marches, vigils, road blocks, railway blocks, flashmobs and the prominent hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat, are raising a number of significant issues. Initially, the movement was a response to the Harper government’s introduction of Bill C-45, legislation that would significantly weaken environmental protection laws in Canada. As the movement has grown, its message has broadened to raise questions about indigenous sovereignty and environmental protection more generally, both in Canada and around the world where indigenous people struggle against colonization and environmental degradation.
Movements against colonization raise significant questions for scholars studying the legal regulation of sexuality and family. The imposition of gender norms and family formation norms
and the use of sexual violence
as a tool of war have been significant to processes of colonization. The depiction of cultures and peoples targeted for colonization as “backward” in terms of sexuality and family formation has been a rationalization for colonization, and has often included portraying indigenous women as needing to be saved
by the colonizers from their own families and cultures. These methods and rationalizations are visible in the history of the colonization of North America where the Idle No More movement has been most visible so far, but we can also hear these rationales deployed to justify the war in Afghanistan
, proposed war with Iran
, and in rationales for Israeli settler colonialism in Palestine
These dynamics are particularly interesting in the context of a contemporary gay and lesbian rights framework in the US and its global influence. As many scholars have noted, the gay and lesbian rights framework has increasingly moved toward demands for formal legal equality in recent decades, particularly focusing on demands for military participation and access to legal marriage. There has been a great deal of critique of these demands by a range of feminist, anti-racist, queer and trans scholars. One aspect of this critique that is particularly interesting in the context of the Idle No More movement’s growing momentum is how these demands speak or fail to speak to the quest for sexual freedom for those imagining freedom from an anti-colonial perspective.
Ostensibly, the contemporary gay and lesbian rights agenda developed from the sexual liberation movements of the 1960’s and ‘70’s that are remembered in images from the Stonewall Riots where queer and trans people fought back against police harassment and criminalization. As it developed, its vision of “freedom” has become more aligned with joining the apparatuses of colonial occupation than fighting them. The US military literally operationalizes US colonial and imperial violence, and marriage enforces the family formation norms for the settler colonial state by disbursing essential benefits to the population based on whether we conform to that norm. As the Idle No More movement and other anti-colonial movements such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement
continue to grow, queer and trans politics faces interesting questions about how various approaches to conceptualizing sexual freedom relate to anti-colonial agendas that seek to dismantle the apparatuses in which certain lesbian and gay rights campaigns and court cases seek gay and lesbian inclusion. These questions are particularly interesting now, as gay and lesbian people are increasingly articulated as those that need saving
in colonial discourses. Access to legal marriage and military participation for gays and lesbians are now often used as measuring sticks for whether or not a country respects human rights
, and human rights enforcement rationalizations are a popular justification for military intervention. The Idle No More movement’s emergence in this moment provides an opportunity for reflection on the relationship between commitments to sexual freedom and commitments to self-determination and decolonization.
Thanks to the owner of the most stylish collection of eyeglasses I have seen, Kate Clinton, for including Normal Life among her favorite books of the year in The Progressive’s “Favorite Books of 2012.” And thanks to the Modern Language Association/GLQ Caucus’s Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize Committee for honorable mention for Normal Life. Such a treat to be recognized alongside this year’s wonderful winners of that prize, Chandan Reddy’s Freedom with Violence and Lauren Berlant’s Cruel Optimism.
I am teaching a January Term class at Seattle U for the first time, starting in a few weeks. It will be a four day intensive about imprisonment. I just posted the syllabus in case it is of interest.
I also wanted to share some new videos. GritTV recently posted an interview that Laura Flanders did with me.
Also, I recently attended the World Social Forum: Free Palestine! in Porto Alegre, Brazil. I was part of a Queer Visions contingent that put on two public panels, this one and this one. Here’s the talk I gave about marriage and the military and pinkwashing:
The Circuit, which is the online journal of the California Law Review, just published a response piece I wrote. I responded to an article that Prof. Russell Robinson wrote about the K6G unit at the Los Angeles County Jail, which is a unit designated for trans women and queer men. In my response, I suggest that the K6G unit, which was developed after a lawsuit brought on behalf of queer prisoners but has utterly failed to protect them, is a clear example of why we need prison abolition scholarship and politics in order to sufficiently analyze and confront the violence faced by queer and trans prisoners.
GLQ recently published a review of Nat Smith and Eric Stanley’s Captive Genders, Regina Kunzel’s Criminal Intimacy, and my book Normal Life. Thanks to Eli Vitulli for writing the review! You can read it here.
I’m writing from Brazil, where I have traveled to attend the World Social Forum Free Palestine and specifically to participate in the Queer Visions gathering and public panels here focused on anti-pinkwashing work. The Queer Visions meetings were convened by the wonderful activists from Pinkwatching Israel who gathered 16 international activists doing anti-pinkwashing work in their own contexts. Here is a video from the Assembly that ended the Forum of anti-pinkwashers presenting a resolution. Below are some pictures from the march in Porto Alegre–the one with lots of purple is a feminist/women’s solidarity contingent that had beautiful quilted signs. I also wanted to share the sweet news that Wania and Ewe have translated my 2004 essay, For Lovers and Fighters, into Polish! You can grab it in Polish here.