Sexualities, Race, and Empire: Resistance in an Uncertain Time

The Sexualities Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA) turned twenty in 2017 amidst political upheaval and revitalized struggles for social justice. Rising tides of dominant nationalisms, aspects of state and non-state terror, surging forms of sexual, racialized, and gendered violence, and the complicated effects of empire are evident worldwide in both spectacular and quotidian ways. Sexual subjects and practices are under renewed assault. At the same time, movements to resist these assaults and hegemonies continually point to the ways sexuality, race, gender, nation, religion, and social class are deeply implicated—whether in classrooms or communities or at national borders.

To mark the section’s twenty-year anniversary and to engage this political moment, the Sexualities Section will host Sexualities, Race, and Empire: Resistance in an Uncertain Time, its second national pre- conference, from August 9-10, 2018 in Philadelphia. Scheduled to precede the ASA Annual Meeting focused on “Feeling Race,” the pre-conference will bring together scholars working in the field of sexuality studies, highlighting the connections of sexuality, race, affect and emotion, empire, inequality, and resistance in a variety of sites and contexts. Activities will map and advance the field of sexuality studies, identify and pursue new paradigms, build networks and community, foster dialogues toward collective understanding and knowledge, and promote professional development.

Sexualities, Race, and Empire responds to our current political climate by challenging sexualities scholars to foreground race, racialization, and their local, transnational, and global repercussions in our work. Attendees will respond to the surge of racialized, sexualized, and gendered violence occurring throughout the world and the impact of this violence on intimacy, citizenship, and belonging. At the center of our organizations will be implications of the contemporary political landscape for racialized, sexualized, and gendered bodies across the United States and the globe. Attendees will unpack the physical and emotional violence enacted against racialized and sexualized others and challenge ourselves as researchers, theorists, and educators to better understand intersecting oppressions—and to identify strategies for resistance.

Hosting the preconference just after the section’s 20th anniversary affords an opportunity to

commemorate the section’s accomplishments and take stock as we consider the questions and concerns scholars face today and will face in the future. A number of questions shape our activities.

  • How has the integration of sexualities scholarship transformed sociology as a discipline? What transformations do we still hope to achieve? In turn, what other sociological elements— methodological, conceptual, theoretical, and substantive—will make the sociology of sexualities a transformed and transformative area of scholarship?
  • What scholarship has been foundational to the area of sexualities? What marginalized and excluded scholarship warrants a closer look? How does intersectionality, racial formation studies, migration/transnational scholarship, and other areas of study support this endeavor?

What have been the particular insights of global, transnational, and critical perspectives in the sociology of sexualities? How do those insights articulate and/or enter in tension with US policy, law, and a general ethnocentric (and white) way of thinking of sexualities studies?