Roderick Ferguson Lecture

Wednesday, November 13th | Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, Bridgewaters Lounge | 5PM

“Socialism in Black Queer Time: The Nineteen Seventies and the Erotic Potentials of Radical Politics”

This talk engages the history of black queer diasporic formations in the nineteen seventies as part of radical attempts to reimagine and eroticize socialist imaginations.  The talk situates these formations within a social and political context in which various modes of difference were being mobilized to illustrate and expand the symbolic flexibility and the “writerly” potentials of socialism.  Here we might think of the politically imaginative work of the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords, the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, the 1978 Socialist-Feminist Conference, the radical queer activist group Gay Liberation Front and so on. The talk uses these formations as the context for arguing that this decade of socialist experimentation was one in which black queer activists and artists were central. More directly, those activists and artists were part of various projects to revise socialism in accordance with an interest in politicizing homoerotic desires and eroticizing anti-racist and socialist visions. To illustrate the decade’s experimentations with blackness, socialism, and queer desire, the talk reads the writings of Third World Gay Revolution—a 1970 U.S.-based black and Latino socialist group—and Isaac Julien’s Young Soul Rebels, a 1991 film about the emergence of soul music in Britain as the context for thinking the convergence of socialist politics, race, and homoeroticism.
Roderick A. Ferguson is professor of race and critical theory in the Department of American Studies at the University of Minnesota.  From 2009 to 2012, he was the chair of the American Studies Department.  From 2007 to 2010, he was associate editor of the journal American Quarterly.  He is the co-editor of the University of Minnesota Press series Difference Incorporated.  He is also co-editor with Grace Hong of Strange Affinities: The Gender and Sexual Politics of Comparative Racialization (2011).  He also is the author of Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique (2004) and The Reorder of Things: The University and Its Pedagogies of Minority Difference (2012).
Sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of English and the Department of Gender Studies.  Co-sponsored by the Departments of African American and African Diaspora Studies, American Studies, and Sociology.
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