Race/Sex Theory ‘Toward a New and More Possible Meeting’

Peer Reviewed

Excerpt from Article

"The stakes are, literally, life and death for African and African descended non-heteronormative and gender variant individuals—not only in the global south, which is often labeled a “homophobic” place out of time with the “enlightened” north, but also in industrialized nations. Evidence of this includes cultural exclusion, police violence, high and disproportionate incidence of HIV infection, and other forms of “social suffering” experienced by black LGBTQ individuals, globally. But, black queers are more than the sum of their compounded socially constructed vulnerabilities. For another channel of expression of the articulation of race and sexuality in everyday life, look to everyday intimacies, play, activism, popular literature, or the bare expressions of sexual desire in pornography and sexual hook-up websites. To take articulations of race and sex seriously, is to realize that there is no “colorblind” sexual desire, and no neutral race/sex project."

Editorial Footnotes

Cultural Anthropology has published a number of essays on sexual identity and queer studies, including Florence E. Babb’s "Out in Nicaragua: Local and Transnational Desires after the Revolution" (2003), Alyssa Cymene Howe’s "Queer Pilgrimage: The San Francisco Homeland and Identity Tourism" (2001), and Donald L. Donham’s "Freeing South Africa: The 'Modernization' of Male-Male Sexuality in Soweto" (1998).

Cultural Anthropology has also published a number of articles on race and sexuality, including Damani Partridge's "We Were Dancing in the Club, Not on the Berlin Wall: Black Bodies, Street Bureaucrats, and Exclusionary Incorporation into the New Europe" (1998) and Jacqueline Nassy Brown's "Black Liverpool, Black America, and the Gendering of Diasporic Space" (1998).

About the Author

Jafari Allen is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies at Yale University.  His research focuses on the intersections of queer studies, sexuality, gender, and race in Cuba, the United States, and across global spaces.  Through historical, literary, and cultural analysis, Dr. Allen’s critical ethnography, ¡Venceremos?: Sexuality, Gender and Black Self-Making in Cuba, provides an ethnographic rendering of the everyday experiences and reflections of Black Cubans—to show how Black men and women strategically deploy, re-interpret, transgress and potentially transform racialized and sexualized interpellations of their identities, through “erotic self-making.”  

Related Readings

Alexander, M. Jacqui. Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.  

Cohen, Cathy J. “Deviance as Resistance: A New Research Agenda for the Study of Black Politics.” Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race 1, no. 01 (2004): 27–45.

Holland, Sharon Patricia. The Erotic Life of Racism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.  

Puar, Jasbir. Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.  

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