Whither homophobia? Rethinking a bad object for queer studies from the black global south

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Once an important analytic tool for activist scholarship in interdisciplinary queer studies, “homophobia” has become a bad object for the field, critiqued for its liberal underpinnings and collusions with racism, capitalism, and empire. However, homophobia lingers as a peripheral analytic in certain fields, mentioned as one of the structural oppressions shaping contemporary life and death for queer people of color. Based on research about field formations in interdisciplinary queer studies as well as multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork about the gender and sexual politics of United States imperialism in Haiti where activists use omofobi (homophobia) as essential language for describing their material conditions, this article makes the case that it is politically necessary for an anti-racist and anti-imperialist interdisciplinary queer studies to reopen a conversation about homophobia. Centering the Black Global South means rethinking the relationship of interdisciplinary queer studies to “homophobia” and creating more nuanced accounts of what I call imperialist homophobias. The ethnographically informed account here bridges critiques of homophobia as a racialized discourse of empire with description of two kinds of religious homophobia in Haiti—Catholic homophobia and Protestant homophobia—that are legacies of European colonialism and U.S. imperialism, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-78
Number of pages30
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

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