Beyond Binary: Trans and Queer as a Disruptive Technologies

1 March 2019

SG1 and SG2, Alison Richard Building

Online registration for the symposium is now closed. 

A limited number of places are available for people wishing to register on the day. A £5 registration fee will be payable on arrival (cash only).

 

Summary

In 1994, Susan Stryker published one of the late-twentieth century’s most provocative queer manifestos in what was then the newly minted Duke University Press publication, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. ‘My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamonix’ combined a highly condensed and vivid analysis of transgender fury and alienation with a powerful assertion of queer life as the freedom to exist outside the narrow confines of either post-enlightenment binarisms or traditional naturalisms. Stitching together a re-reading of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel chronicling the rage and estrangement of a queer creature with a personal account of the tensions of becoming trans, Stryker’s textual montage – part performance, part literary criticism, part queer theory – recapitulated the ontogeny of monstrous externality, whilst at the same time celebrating new forms of birthing, kinship, and reproduction.

On the 25th anniversary of Stryker’s now classic queer text, and in the immediate wake of the 200th anniversary of Shelley’s astonishing literary debut, this symposium revisits trans and queer as a disruptive technologies of gender, identity and thought. Our series of panels and speakers look both back to consider how the challenge to gender binarism has affected models of nature, tradition and the biological, and forward to the queer futures built on the monstrous promises of jarring transitions. Combining art and performance with theory, film, science and literature this multi-disciplinary symposium born of subversive parentage will celebrate the freedom of ‘moving across socially imposed boundaries from unchosen starting places’ (Stryker, 2016).

The symposium will close with keynote presentations from Professor Susan Stryker and Dr Mojisola Adebayo.

 

Sponsors 

           

The symposium is organised by lgbtQ+@cam. It is supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), and the University of Cambridge's Department of Sociology. 

 

Administrative assistance: conferences@crassh.cam.ac.uk

 

Unfortunately, we are unable to arrange or book accommodation for registrants. The following websites may be of help:

9.00 - 9.30

Registration

9.30 - 10.00

Introduction

Sarah Franklin and Heather Stallard (University of Cambridge)

10.00 - 11.15

Panel 1: Insiders/Outsider?

Chair: Waithera Sebatindira (University of Cambridge)

 

Nicholas Boston (City University of New York, Lehman College)

'Dear Boy: Ivor Cummings (1913 - 1992), Queer Godfather of the Windrush Generation'

 

Topher Campbell (Artist and co-founder of rukus! Federation) 

'Middle Finger Right Hand: Archive and Resistance'

11.15 - 11.45

Break

11.45 - 13.00

Panel 2: Manifestly Trans?

Chair: Kristin Grogan (University of Cambridge)

 

Ulrika Dahl (Uppsala University)

'My Words to Homonationalists in the North: Notes on Queer Kinship, the Somatechnics of racial and sexual difference and Femme Rage (In honour of Susan Stryker)'

 

Christine 'Xine' Yao (University College London)

'Whither the Queer Femme? Nineteenth Century Science and the Politics of Dress'

13.00 - 14.00

Lunch

14.00 - 16.00

Keynote Speaker

Chair: Caroline Gonda (University of Cambridge)

 

Susan Stryker (University of Arizona)

'Transgeneration: Or, Becoming-With My Monstrous Kin'

In this keynote address, Susan Stryker tells the story, from her perspective, of how the essay 'My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix' entered the world and what that monstrous assemblage has been doing since it found its way into print. In doing so, she charts a trajectory across queer theory in the 1990s, the emergence of transgender studies as an increasingly legible field, the shift in cultural studies toward questions of ontology and technicity, and new articulations of transness and blackness within contemporary social theory.  

16.00 - 16.30

Break

16.30 - 17.30

Keynote Performance 

Mojisola Adebayo (Queen Mary University of London and Theatre Artist)

'The Afriquia theatre of beautiful monsters and queer disrupters: black queer bodies rising up from dustbins, boxing rings, slave ships, space ships, ice caps and washing machines'

Mojisola Adebayo discusses and performs extracts from some of her Afriquia (black / queer) plays including: Moj of the Antarctic: An African Odyssey, Muhammad Ali and Me, I Stand Corrected and STARS.

17.30 - 19.00

Reception

Mojisola Adebayo has a BA in Drama and Theatre Arts, an MA in Physical Theatre, a PhD in black queer theatre (Goldsmiths, Royal Holloway and Queen Mary, University of London) and she trained extensively with Augusto Boal in Theatre of the Oppressed techniques. She has worked in theatre, radio and television, on four continents, over the past two decades, performing in over 50 productions, writing, devising and directing over 30 plays and leading countless workshops, from Antarctica to Zimbabwe.  Her own plays in production include Moj of the Antarctic: An African Odyssey (Lyric Hammersmith and Oval House), Muhammad Ali and Me (Oval House, Albany Theatre and National touring), 48 Minutes for Palestine (Ashtar Theatre and international touring), Desert Boy (Albany Theatre and national touring), The Listeners (Pegasus Theatre), I Stand Corrected (Artscape, Oval House and international touring) and The Interrogation of Sandra Bland (Bush Theatre and US premiere at Goodman Theatre forthcoming). Her publications include Mojisola Adebayo: Plays One (Oberon Books), 48 Minutes for Palestine in Theatre in Pieces (Methuen), The Interrogation of Sandra Bland in Black Lives, Black Words (Oberon Books), The Theatre for Development Handbook (written with John Martin and Manisha Mehta, available through www.pan-arts.net) as well as numerous academic chapters published by Methuen and Palgrave Macmillan. Mojisola Adebayo: Plays Two (Oberon books) is out in 2019. She is currently commissioned by the National Theatre to write Wind / Rush Generation which will be staged in 2020, followed by her play STARS at the Ovalhouse Theatre and touring in 2020. Mojisola is an Associate Artist with Pan, a Visiting Artist at Rose Bruford and Goldsmiths colleges and a Lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London. 

 

Nicholas Boston is Associate Professor of Media Sociology at the City University of New York (CUNY), Lehman College, in the Bronx, New York, and Visiting Professor of Communications at John Cabot University, Rome. He is the author of The Amorous Migrant: Libidinal Cosmopolitanism in the United Kingdom, from Accession to Brexit

 

Topher Campbell is an artist filmmaker, theatremaker and writer and co-founder of the rukus! Archive.

The rukus! Archive was established by Topher Campbell and Ajamu X in 2005. It is Europe’s first archive dedicated to the histories, culture and experiences of Black LGBTQ people in the UK. The rukus! Archive received a Landmark Archive Award in 2008 from the London Metropolitan Archives where it is now housed.

In his talk Topher will introduce the archive through his personal experience as Black Queer man detailing what inspired and moved him to make the archive. He will also talk about how important it is that the archive remains a living and organic testament to the people who contribute.

 

Ulrika Dahl is a queer fem(me)inist writer, cultural anthropologist and professor of gender studies at Uppsala University. She is interested in feminist and queer politics, decolonial pedagogies, femininity, affect, and queer kinship and reproduction. Her work builds on feminist science studies, somatechnics, postcolonial and critical race theory. Among her publications are the acclaimed books Femmes of Power: Exploding Queer Femininities (with Del LaGrace Volcano, 2008) and Skamgrepp: Femme-inistiska essäer (2014). She is editor of lambda nordica-Nordic journal of LGBTQ studies and Ulrika’s work has featured in Feminist theory, Sexualities, New Formations, Paragraph, Somatechnics and European Journal of Women’s Studies among other journals and she writes regularly for queer and feminist press. Currently, Ulrika is working on a book project on queer family making and the politics of gender, race and nation. At Uppsala University she runs the interdisciplinary network ’Nature as culture: The (re)production of common sense’ and she regularly organises queer feminist cultural events in Stockholm. 

 

Susan Stryker is an award-winning scholar and filmmaker whose historical research, theoretical writing, and creative works have helped shape the cultural conversation on transgender topics since the early 1990s. Dr. Stryker earned her Ph.D. in United States History at the University of California-Berkeley in 1992, later held a Ford Foundation/Social Science Research Council post-doctoral fellowship in sexuality studies at Stanford University, and has been a distinguished visiting faculty member at Harvard University, Yale University, Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University, University of California-Santa Cruz, Macquarie University in Sydney, and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. She is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of numerous books and anthologies, including Gay by the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area (Chronicle 1996), Queer Pulp: Perverse Passions in the Golden Age of the Paperback (Chronicle 2000), The Transgender Studies Reader (Routledge 2006), The Transgender Studies Reader 2 (2013) and Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution (Seal Press 2008, 2017).

Her academic articles have appeared in such publications as GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Radical History Review, South Atlantic Quarterly, Parallax, Australian Feminist Studies, Social Semiotics, and Journal of Women’s History, while her public scholarship has appeared in Aperture, Wired, The Utne Reader, and Slate.com. She won an Emmy Award for her documentary film Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria (ITVS 2005), and is also the recipient of a Lambda Literary Award (2006), the Ruth Benedict Book Prize (2013), the Monette-Horowitz Prize for LGBTQ activism (2008), the Transgender Law Center’s Community Vanguard Award (2003), two career achievement awards in LGBTQ Studies—the David Kessler Award in  from the City University of New York’s Center for LGBT Studies in 2008, Yale University’s Brudner Memorial Prize in 2015, and a Local Genius Award from MOCA Tucson in 2018. Dr. Stryker served for several years as Executive Director of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco (1999-2003), and for five years as Director of the Institute for LGBT Studies at the University of Arizona (2011-2016), where she is Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and coordinator of the university’s Transgender Studies Initiative. In addition to serving as founding co-editor of the academic journal TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, she is currently developing several media projects, and has a book under contract to Farrar Straus Giroux, What Transpires Now, about the uses of transgender history for the present. 

 

Christine 'Xine' Yao is Lecturer in American Literature to 1900 at University College London. Previously she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia after earning her PhD from Cornell University in English with minors in Feminism, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and American Studies. Her book project is on the racial and sexual politics of unfeeling as dissent in nineteenth-century American literature and culture. Her scholarly essays have appeared in J19, Occasion, American Quarterly, and American Gothic Culture: An Edinburgh Companion. Xine is the co-host of PhDivas, a podcast about academia, culture, and social justice across the STEM/humanities divide, as well as the Chair of the C19 Podcast, a public platform for C19: the Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. Her honours include the Yasuo Sakakibara Essay Prize from the American Studies Association and her work has been supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.