Joseph Pierce on Why Academics Must Decolonize Queerness

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"Decolonial practices are about doing, but they're also about asking how we know the things we know. Under what conditions did whiteness become the norm? Under what conditions did heterosexuality become the norm?"

Joseph Pierce wants you to question everything, but especially queerness.

The Cherokee citizen and Stony Brook University assistant professor believes the moment has come for queer academia to seriously question the roots of their discipline, and ask how the field can expand to include more voices outside the Euro-American canon of Judith Butlers and Jack Halberstams.

"When we think about queerness," Pierce explains, "it's seen as a universal theory that can be applied everywhere. But often what that does is maintain a framework based on coloniality and white supremacy. What we want to do is question how queerness circulates."

Accordingly, the young researcher has teamed up with scholars from across the Western hemisphere to produce a special edition of GLQ, an important journal of lesbian and gay studies published by Duke University Press. The forthcoming issue intends to address the limits of queerness outside normative white contexts, and how decolonization and the schema of radical liberation might provide new context to how LGBTQ culture operates in regions like Latin America and the Global South.

An erstwhile contributor to Hyperallergic, Pierce has also written a new book that will release this November, called Argentine Intimacies: Queer Kinship in an Age of Splendor, 1890–1910. The result of extensive archival research, the book is a study into Argentina's turn-of-the-century crisis of modernity, and how political and economic changes in the country opened up new ways of conceptualizing family.

For a discussion about the relationship between queerness, decolonialiality, culture, and politics, we invited Pierce onto the Hyperallergic Art Movements podcast to share some insight into how he and other academics are trying to evolve queer studies into a more open field of inquiry.

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Joseph Pierce on Why Academics Must Decolonize Queerness
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