14 Oct 2021 17:00 - 19:00 Online


An event organised by Global Conversations Towards Queer Social Justice research network.

Download the event poster.

Theme 1: Sexuality and race

Colour is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality
(James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, 2017 [1963], p. 88)

Reading and discussion group with:


In this session, we will discuss how sexuality and race are co-produced. We will draw on two significant cases: the Black AIDS epidemic in the US (discussed by Prof Sonja Mackenzie), and the use of ‘race science’ in the national eugenic project in Mexico (analysed by Dr Rachell Sánchez-Rivera). These cases demonstrate how hierarchies of privilege are constructed through the use of two interconnected categories, sexuality and race, and how these are embedded in the structural and the social. For example, we will look at how individual social theories of the workings of power and structural racism render structural intimacies, or sexual stories produced by the meeting of interpersonal lives and social structural patterns. We will also consider the ways in which these questions are relevant today.

Alongside a moderated discussion on the topics from the recommended readings, this session is also an opportunity to meet the Authors and reflect upon the writing process, including the commitments that may underpin ‘queer writing’. We encourage reading the recommended texts from Sonja and Rachell’s work below – but please do feel free to join us even if you have not had the time to read everything. – The Authors will kindly introduce their work briefly at the beginning of the session, we will moderate the discussion, and all participants will be most welcome to join this seminar discussion and re-imagine queer social justice together.

Recommended Readings:

  • Mackenzie, Sonja. 2013. Structural Intimacies: Sexual Stories in the Black AIDS Epidemic. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Chapter 3: Never a Black Brokeback Mountain: Sexual Silence and the ‘Down Low’ in the Age of AIDS, pp.41-71. (An additional recommendation: the introduction Chapter 1: Storytelling Sexuality in the Black AIDS Epidemic, pp.1-18). – e-book available through Cambridge University Library
  • Sánchez-Rivera, Rachell. 2021. The Making of ‘La Gran Familia Mexicana’: Eugenics, Gender, and Sexuality in Mexico. Journal of Historical Sociology, 34: 161-185. Doi: 10.1111/johs.12308.

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