Queer Worlds: Reading and Writing Queer Ethnographies

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses

How do queer studies intersect with the humanistic social sciences, particularly in the documentary impulses of ethnographic research? What kinds of insights can ethnographies provide to understanding and theorizing same-sex desire and gender transgression in different locations? How can we write about the experiences, relationships, and landscapes that together make up queer worlds? Building from these essential questions, we will immerse ourselves in this yearlong course in ethnographic modes of writing about gender, sexuality, and non-normativity both “at home” and around the world. From travesti favela dwellers in Brazil to ex-gays in California, from gay Dominicans in New York to hijras in India, and from women-loving women in Suriname to intersex people throughout the United States, we will ask questions about local articulations of gender and sexual politics while also plumbing the myriad strategies that social scientists use to represent them. Together, we will think about—and, through our scholarship, engage in—queer world-making. Every student will be required to complete a conference project based upon ethnographic research. While the form of that project may vary (from the conventional to the experimental, the realist to the poetic, the narrative to the multimediated), we will all consider how we might use ethnography as a way of knowing and representing queer worlds.