2010 Annual Meeting

The 109th Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association was held on November 16 to 23, 2010 in New Orleans at the Sheraton New Orleans and New Orleans Marriott Hotels.

Below are the panels sponsored by AQA:

THURSDAY, November 18, 2010

1:45 PM-3:30 PM
ROOM: Bayside C, Fourth Floor, Sheraton

Linguistic-anthropological research has long been interested in the discursive construction of gender and sexuality, but there has been less understanding of the embodied dimensions of such identities (see Yerian, 2002). At the same time, feminist scholars have increasingly focused on the materiality of gendered and sexed performances, yet they have not always privileged fine-grained analyses of interactional discourse (see, for example, Butler, 1993). This panel draws on the strengths of these approaches by examining the myriad ways that the body and materiality in the surrounding space intersect with discourse in the circulation of gendered and sexed ideologies.

The contributions by Thorne and Zimman explore how ideologically “in-between” sexual and gender categories emerge through discourse about the body. Zimman compares the different ways that North American trans men and academic researchers alike exploit the gender indexicalities of anatomy lexis such as “cock” and “pussy” in the sexing of trans male bodies. He thus shows that the embodied sex of the same individual can vary as a result of contrastive discursive practices. In analyzing the interaction of a bisexual Californian college student group, Thorne shows that normative and non-normative bisexualities are respectively constructed through the discursive formulation of embodied sexual experience and inexperience with both men and women.

But just as gendering and sexing discourse may be about the body, it may also act through the body. Arnold and Wahl’s papers look at different ways that the body may serve as just such a discursive medium. In his analysis of dance competitions among heterosexual male Angolan performers of the street-based musical genre Kuduro, Wahl’s paper examines how feminized, homoerotic dance movements are semiotically deployed as performed threats against opponents at key moments. Arnold analyzes video data from a community bike shop in California, showing how the ways that individuals move past one another in close proximity reveal differently gendered practices for the management of embodied interaction.

The papers by Bucholtz et al. and Skapoulli widen the analytic scope to the interaction of gendered discourse and gendered materialities in and of the space around the body. Skapoulli examines how adolescent girls in Cyprus gain peer status through their symbolic display of cell phones for stylistic work; here the materiality of the telephone as a status object for gendered styles of youth identity is privileged over its use for communication. Bucholtz et al.’s analysis demonstrates how the ideology of North American normative femininity is both contested and embraced by undergraduate women in science as social actors circulate between scientific and social spaces.

Finally, the insights of these various projects are synthesized by Hall, whose expertise in language, gender, and sexuality—as well as their material instantiations—will prove invaluable to solidifying a new theoretical trajectory for future research. Thus, by representing diverse areal, communicative, gender, and sexual contexts, this panel demonstrates how the body and surrounding material space as both target and medium of discourse are central to the circulation of ideologies.

1:45 PM: LAL ZIMMAN (University of Colorado-Boulder) — The Discursive Construction of Sex
2:00 PM: LISA THORNE (University of California-Santa Barbara) — Queers Among “Queers Among Queers”: Non-Normative Sexuality in a Bisexual Community
2:15 PM: ALEXANDER WAHL (University of California-Santa Barbara) — Threatening Desires: Homoerotic Dance Movements in an Urban Angolan Musical Genre
2:30 PM: LYNNETTE ARNOLD (University of California-Santa Barbara) — Communicating Gendered Spaces and Bodies at the Bike Shop: Revisiting Old Questions With New Tools.
2:45 PM: ELENA SKAPOULLI (University of California-Santa Barbara) — Cell Phone Practices Among Teenage Girls in Cyprus: Group Identity and Individual Distinctiveness
3:00 PM: MARY BUCHOLTZ (University of California-Santa Barbara), JUNG-EUN JANIE LEE (University of California-Santa Barbara), ELENA SKAPOULLI (University of California-Santa Barbara) — Gender Ideologies and the Interactional Management of Femininity Among Undergraduate Women in Science
3:15 PM: DISCUSSANT: KIRA HALL (University of Colorado)

4:00 PM-5:45 PM
ROOM: : La Galerie 1, Second Floor, Marriott

In late modernity, sexual identities have been represented through a complex and often paradoxical nexus of social and bio-cultural forces: “sexuality” has been contested, taken-for-granted, studied, ignored, scrutinized, assumed, regulated, and resisted. Sexologists, criminologists, public health officials, and religious leaders attempt to define sexual identities and practices, and sometimes to control them. Pornographers, self-help writers, and the beauty industry seek to commodify and profit from them. Ordinary people try to make sense of these circulating sexualities, often borrowing from these “expert” sources while simultaneously resisting, adapting, and modifying their claims, consciously and unconsciously.

Recent ethnographic works in queer anthropology have documented tensions between lived experiences and the prevailing discursive and categorical forms through which “sexualities” have come to be understood in a variety of cultural contexts. Building on such scholarship, this panel examines the ways in which the circulation of sexual identities might nuance and complicate other social formations – class, ethnicity, medicine, nationality, religion – just as these frameworks help shape how sexual identities come to be experienced and understood. That is, we are interested in how sexual identities circulate ethnographically and cross-culturally, but also in how theoretical ideas about sexual identity might make interventions into other discursive domains. Crucially, we ask: what are the stakes of such circulations – economic, political, psychological, and social?

This panel brings together papers that analyze – ethnographically and theoretically – the circulation of sexual identities. In particular, our papers explore the ways in which such circulations might complicate other discursive forms – aesthetic, national, psychiatric, religious, etc.

4:00 PM: JOHN DAVY — Reifying Circulation: Expertise and Evangelical Sexuality
4:15 PM: ROBERT PHILLIPS (University of Wollongong) — Tongzhi Discourse and the Reconfiguration of National and Sexual Identity in Singapore
4:30 PM: RICHARD MARTIN (Princeton University) — Imagining Communities: on the Nationalization of Erotic Minorities
4:45 PM: CRYSTAL BIRUK (University of Pennsylvania) — “MSMobility”: Cosmopolitan Categories in the AIDS Policy/Research Nexus in Malawi
5:00 PM: TIMOTHY HALL (University of California-Los Angeles) — The Circulation of “Technical”/”Folk” and “Global”/”Local” Concepts of Homosexual Identity in Prague, Czech Republic
5:15 PM: DISCUSSANT: DAVID VALENTINE (University of Minnesota)

FRIDAY, November 19, 2010

1:45 PM-5:30 PM
ROOM: Grand Ballroom A, Fifth Floor, Sheraton

In 1972, Esther Newton published her now-classic ethnography of Midwestern drag queens, Mother Camp. It was a slender volume, written in unpretentious, clear prose, much of which drew on the then-pervasive framework of “deviance” to approach the lives of both professional drag performers and the more marginal “street fairies” whose drag performances occurred in less sanctioned public places. Newton’s ethnography revealed the ways in which drag generated a cultural performance that served both performers and audiences, and how the symbolism of drag defined identities on competing, sometimes colliding, levels. In particular, drag intersected with elusive struggles for dignity and respectability, enabling a moral economy in which some forms of drag achieved higher status than others. Based on the dissertation research she completed in the 1960s, Newton’s book was a courageous one, published at a time when even mentioning homosexuality unleashed suspicion and professional rejection. Despite her training at the prestigious University of Chicago, Newton was shunned by elite anthropology, and spent her career teaching at a small public college near New York City.

But Mother Camp started something: the now vigorous and complex field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) or queer anthropology. In the almost four decades since its publication, Mother Camp has inspired generations of anthropologists to demand the right to examine LGBT topics in all of their complexity. We have debated and will probably never reach full agreement on what we should call this field of inquiry. We have drawn on countless theoretical approaches, have turned our focus on many different populations that might be embraced by the terms LGBT and queer, and have inspired scholars from other disciplines to take up some of the questions we have raised. While all of this has been going on, Esther Newton has continued her own intellectual journey, publishing another significant ethnographic work, Cherry Grove, Fire Island, and a collection of essays, Margaret Mead Made Me Gay. She is now at work on a memoir, My Butch Career.

This session will pay homage to Esther Newton’s work, and trace its influence on the varied intellectual journeys of the participants and on the formation of a field unimaginable only 40 years ago.

1:45 PM: DAVID HALPERIN — Why Are the Drag Queens Laughing?
2:00 PM: EVELYN BLACKWOOD (Purdue University) — Incongruous Juxtapositions: Camp Through Esther Newton’s Eyes
2:15 PM: GAYLE RUBIN (University of Michigan) — How to Do the Ethnography of Homosexuality
2:30 PM: WILLIAM LEAP (American University) — Esther Newton’s “Gay English”
2:45 PM: RUDOLF GAUDIO (State University of New York-Purchase College) — Newton’s Urbanity: From Cherry Grove, Fire Island to Abuja, Nigeria
3:00 PM: MARY GRAY (Indiana University) — ‘Look, Kiddo…’: Finding Community in Newton’s Cherry Grove
3:30 PM: DEBORAH AMORY (Empire State College) — An Epistemology of the Academic Closet, Or, Still Too Queer for College
3:45 PM: REBECCA ETZ (Robert Wood Johnson Medical School) — Looking for Esther
4:00 PM: EMMA CRANDALL — Newton’s Laws
4:15 PM: ELLEN LEWIN (University of Iowa) — Ethnographic Realism
4:30 PM: MARTIN MANALANSAN (University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign) — The Mother (Camp) of Us All
4:45 PM: TOM BOELLSTORFF (University of California-Irvine) — Esther Newton Made Me Gay
5:00 PM: DISCUSSANT: ESTHER NEWTON (University of Michigan)

6:15 PM-8:15 PM
ROOM: Riverview, 41st Floor, Marriott

8:00 PM-9:30 PM
ROOM: Riverview, 41st Floor, Marriott

SATURDAY, November, 20, 2010

1:45 PM-3:30 PM
Studio 7, Second Floor, Marriott

1:45 PM: NOELLE STOUT (New York University) — Pride as Prejudice: Queer Cubans Trouble Universal Narratives of Sexual Liberation
2:00 PM: KELLEY SAWYER (University of New Mexico) — Getting History Straight and Nightlife Gay: Circulation, Demarcation, and Gay Tourism in Philadelphia
2:15 PM: HADLEY RENKIN (Central European University) — Walk This Way: ‘Pride’ vs. ‘Dignity’ in Hungarian Sexual Politics
2:30 PM: ANDREA ALLEN (Harvard University) — Brazil Interruptus: Lesbians and the Brazilian Culture of Sexuality
2:45 PM: AMANDA SWARR (University of Washington) — Paradoxes of Butchness: Lesbian Masculinities and Sexual Violence in Contemporary South Africa
3:00 PM: HOCHING JIANG (California State University-Los Angeles) — Racializing Classifications in Homosexual Encounters: Rice Queen as an Example

5:00 PM-7:00 PM
ROOM: Offsite, First Floor, Sheraton

SUNDAY, November 21, 2010

10:15 AM-12:00 PM
ROOM: Gallier A, Fourth Floor, Sheraton

10:15 AM: FAE GOODMAN (Tulane University) — Friend, Sister, Lover, Wife: Negotiating Cultural Expectations for Romantic Love in a Lesbian Festival Community
10:30 AM: JOSEPH HAWKINS (University of Southern California) — Ethnographic Filmmaking With Queer Values: Voyeurism, the Other, and the Uncomfortable Conundrums of a Socially Conscious Gendered Cultural Critique
10:45 AM: BILLY HEBERT (Concordia University) — Queer(ing) Space(s): An Exploration of the Discursive Practices of the Multilingual Montreal Radical Queer Community
11:00 AM: MICHELLE MARZULLO (American University) — Tying the Knot, Neck Ties and Tie-Dyes: The Circulation of Neoliberal and Liberal Ideas Within the US Marriage Debate
11:15 AM: LAMONT LINDSTROM (University of Tulsa) — Geoffrey Gorer and Feral Benga, a Collaboration
11:30 AM: APRIL CALLIS (Purdue University) — Where Kinsey and Tila Tequila Meet: Popular Discourse and Non-Binary Sexual Identities

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