Handout, D.C.

Queer Studies Symposium, Keyword Roundtable, University of Maryland, College Park, 18 April 2008 KEYWORD: GLOBAL GAY Katie King, Women's Studies, University of Maryland, College Park/Email: katking@umd.edu Home Page: http://www.womensstudies.umd.edu/wmstfac/kking/ "...a homosexual or gay identity is as much subject to criticism and deconstruction in the west as elsewhere. Indeed our current concern with all matters postcolonially queer, is partially a reflection of uncertainties within queer/sexual politics in the west. Now that there is a perception (particularly among the metropolitan elite) that many of the battles for lesbian and gay recognition associated with modernist gay politics have been won, what role for activists, what does community and a gay identity mean? The discussion in this section posits that we need to make sure that we do not lapse into 'particularism' as well as universalism...." Binnie, J. (2004). The globalization of sexuality. London & Thousand Oaks: Sage.

The particular term "global gay," or capacious conceptualizations associated with it, have been both valorized and critiqued, each from many angles. In its associations with globalization it has been analyzed together with global capital (Grewal & Kaplan 2001), gay tourism and LGBT demographics based on market surveys (Puar 2002), and unacknowledged universalisms (Altman 1996; Rofel 1999), or unacknowledged U.S. centrisms (Binnie 2004). The most common alternative conceptualizations have focused on strategically regionalized or "place-specific" studies of particular communities, sometimes valuable in themselves, sometimes offering alternative conceptualizations of racial and national identities or of institutional and state contexts (Cruz-Malavé & Manalansan 2002; Swarr & Nagar 2004). A tension among "layers of locals and globals" (King 1992) characterizes critique and research strategies. These navigate from, on the one hand, critiques of the term or of conceptualizations around "global gay" which would lead some scholars to abandon the term altogether, as too encrusted by all these critiques to continue to be useful. On another hand, some researchers would prefer to concentrate entirely on local studies, perceived as more likely to instantiate anti-racist and anti-colonialist practices, and to refuse "global" or abstract generalizations as universalizing or as evacuating enlivening and intersectional details of subject rights, relationships, and practices. Choices along these lines are likely to reflect disciplinary practices and values: some of these are self-critically interrogated and explored along with analysis and critique; some are based on disciplinary distinctiveness created in contrast with critiques of neighboring disciplines; some move among disciplinary distinctions and valorizations between theory and method; and so on. I prefer not to abandon the term "global gay" although I have always augmented it myself. Originally I tried to achieve a dynamic sense of layers of locals and globals in political flux – disciplinarily, structurally, abstractly and regionally layered, as in "global gay formations and local homosexualities." I usually prefer a cumbersome and creaky terminology as a conceptual obstruction marking problems, to terminology that can be taken for granted, or be easy to use and naturalize. This is not to participate in a "logic of enumeration" (Boellstorff 2007), although enumerations such as LGBTQAI, for example, could be sufficiently clunky or transparently historicizing. However they may tend or intend instead to create effects of greater inclusion and to seem to correct critique rather than register it. My own work is at the level of terminology and categorization, tracing memberships among communities of practice. I am critical of critiques that assume that individual essays or projects or scholars can do everything at once. I conceive of critique as both a collective practice with proper divisions of conceptual and scholarly labor and as a denaturalizing practice that does not necessarily debunk and abandon its objects or targets, instead working always include its authors among its subjects, rather than producing them as innocently absent. References: • Altman, D. (1996). Rupture or Continuity? The Internationalization of Gay Identities. Social Text, 48, 77-94. • Binnie, J. (2004). The globalization of sexuality. London & Thousand Oaks: Sage. • Boellstorff, T. (2007). Queer Studies in the House of Anthropology. Annual Review of Anthropology, 36(8), 17-35. • Cruz-Malavé, A., & Manalansan, M. F. (Eds.). (2002). Queer globalizations: citizenship and the afterlife of colonialism. New York & London: NYU. • Grewal, I., & Kaplan, C. (2001). Global Identities: Theorizing Transnational Studies of Sexuality. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 7(4), 663-679. • King, K. (1992). Local and Global: AIDS Activism and Feminist Theory. camera obscura, 28, 78-99. • Puar, J. K. (2002). Circuits of Queer Mobility: Tourism, Travel, and Globalization. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 8(1-2), 101-137. • Rofel, L. (1999). Qualities of Desire. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 5(4), 451-474. • Swarr, A. L., & Nagar, R. (2004). Dismantling Assumptions: Interrogating "Lesbian" Struggles for Identity and Survival in India and South Africa. Signs, 29(2), 491-516.

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