Presentations and Discussions by:
In the (After) Life: Black Lesbian Spatialities under the Emergence of Homonationalism
by Kerby Lynch, Geography
Memory, Belonging, and Archive Justice: Towards a Liberatory Archival Praxis
by Sine Hwang Jensen, Ethnic Studies Library
This dissertation explores the artifacts of a Black lesbian literary archive at the height of intersectional liberation movements (Black, Gay and Feminist). I attempt to spatialize the social dynamics of a post-Black Power era and map narratives of when Black lesbian poets contest the social devaluation of black women’s sexuality in Gay/Feminist movements to assert a poetic of survival (Gumbs 2015). The production of silence around Black women’s sexualities after liberation has allowed for capitalist narratives of progress to take precedence over narratives of racial, sexual and homophobic regimes of violence. Black lesbian poets leave traces, notes and warnings that provide an alternative meaning to black life that has been undertheorized. I seek to extend Puar’s analysis of homonationalism to assert that it is an institution that refuses to endorse the survivability of the black lesbian, and explore its foundational spatial context in which it is conceptualized.
This project aims to tell an alternative historical geography to Bay Area gentrification via Barbara Smith’s “Black lesbian reading” of space as a reclamation of the despised black body. Queer studies has normalized anti-blackness as a fact of the identity’s ontology, but needs to invest more in empirical study of the ways in which notions of anti-blackness disciplines the subject, limits inquiry, and ultimately is complicit in the materiality of Black social death. I strategically study the poetry and literary archive of Black lesbians to interrupt the reproduction of a black queer subjectivity that has not resolved its regimes of black women’s disposability.
Kerby Lynch is a current PhD student in the Department of Geography at UC Berkeley. Their research interest are in archival theory, literary cartographies and black lesbian subjectivities.
Sine Hwang Jensen
Archives are sites to which people return seeking memory, belonging, and connection to the past. But the history of traditional archives and their practices have always been inextricably intertwined with that of empire, cisheteropatriarchy, and white supremacy. The urge toward and ideology of taxonomy and classification provides the foundation for “difference” and undergirds the work of naturalists, anthropologists, and that of librarians and archivists as well. Classification systems such as the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress systems are rooted in worldviews which marginalize the lives and experiences of oppressed peoples. Therefore, for Black, indigenous, and people of color, LGBTQ, and other historically oppressed communities, traditional archives are often a site of erasure and violence.
Drawing from experience at the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Library and from feminist, anti-racist, indigenous, and queer interventions into archival theory and practice, this talk aims to both demystify traditional archival practices and the work that librarians and archivists do as well as offer concrete examples of liberatory archival practices.
Sine Hwang Jensen is the Asian American and Comparative Ethnic Studies Librarian at the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Library. They are passionate about working at the intersections of libraries, archives, and social justice.