50 Years Black & Queer: Erotic Islands and the Cartography Lineage
Organizer: Lyndon K. Gill
Chair: Omise’eke N. Tinsley (UT Austin/Harvard University)
Panelists: Lyndon K. Gill (UT Austin), Angelique Nixon (University of the West Indies), Xavier Livermon (UT Austin)
An emergent horizon in transdisciplinary and transnational inquiry, black queer diaspora studies marks its political, cultural and intellectual genealogy through generations of black (lesbian) feminist artist activist intellectuals. Many of these queer foremothers planted the seeds of anti-hegemonic resistance in collective imaginations across the Caribbean cultural archipelago hoping for a future harvest of decolonized minds, bodies and desires. Grenadian-Barbadian lesbian feminist poet theorist Audre Lorde is a haunting presence in this queer Caribbean feminist memory archive. This roundtable critically engages the newest intervention in black queer diaspora theorizing to place Lorde at its conceptual center.
Dr. Lyndon K. Gill is an Associate Professor in the Department of African & African Diaspora Studies, the Department of Anthropology, and the Center for Women’s & Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. in African American Studies and Anthropology from Harvard University. And he has received postdoctoral fellowships from Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Ford Foundation. His first book Erotic Islands: Art and Activism in the Queer Caribbean was published by Duke University Press in June 2018. He is also a poet and installation artist.
Dr. Omise’eke Tinsley is Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and Associate Director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, where she specializes in Black Feminism and Black Queer Studies. When asked why her work focuses on Caribbean and African American creative production, she often recounts this story: In 19th century Paramaribo, a cargo of African women disembarked to dazzle eyewitnesses with the living art they had created in the holds. Using only pieces of glass and careful hands, the women had decorated each other’s heads with suns, half-moons, and other designs: beauty created for and with one another as an act of resistance. Animated by a desire to celebrate and add to such defiant creation of black beauty, Dr. Tinsley’s work centers art as a mode of theorizing resistance to anti-blackness, misogynoir, and heteropatriarchy.
Dr. Angelique V. Nixon is a writer, artist, teacher, scholar, activist, and poet –born and raised in Nassau, The Bahamas. Her research, cultural criticism, and poetry have been published widely, and her artwork has been featured at several exhibitions in the Caribbean and Europe. Angelique holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Florida (2008), where she specialized in Caribbean and African diaspora literatures, Caribbean and postcolonial studies, women’s studies and gender research. She also holds a Master of Arts degree in English focusing on multicultural literatures and women’s studies from Florida Atlantic University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Nova Southeastern University. She is the recipient of a number of awards including a postdoctoral fellowship in Africana Studies at New York University (2009) and a Fulbright Scholar Grant in Teaching and Research (2014). Her scholarly book Resisting Paradise: Tourism, Diaspora, and Sexuality in Caribbean Culture (University Press of Mississippi, 2015) won the Caribbean Studies Association’s 2016 Barbara T. Christian Award for Best Book in the Humanities. Her current research areas include feminist praxis and discourse, Caribbean sexualities, sexual labour and social justice movements. She is a Lecturer and Graduate Studies Coordinator at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies.
Dr. Xavier Livermon’s research exists at the intersection of popular culture, gender, and sexuality in post-apartheid South Africa and the African Diaspora. He is currently completing a manuscript tentatively entitled Its About Time: Kwaito and the Performance of Freedom that examines post-apartheid youth culture as a series of performances enacted to test the limits of post-apartheid possibility. His second project, tentatively entitled Queer(y)ing Freedom: Construction Black Queer Belonging in South Africa has resulted in a number of published essays in GLQ; Gender, Place, and Culture; and Feminist Studies and examines how black queer South Africans construct forms of cultural and national belonging in a climate where progressive constitutional rights do not always translate in quotidian practice. His research interests include African Cultural Studies, Black Popular Music, Black Performance, Black Queer Studies, HIV/AIDS and African Diaspora Studies.