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A photograph of Joseph Pierce (image by Sebastián Freire, courtesy Joseph Pierce)

Joseph Pierce wants you to question everything, but especially queerness.

The Cherokee citizen and Stony Brook University assistant professor believes the moment has come for queer academia to seriously question the roots of their discipline, and ask how the field can expand to include more voices outside the Euro-American canon of Judith Butlers and Jack Halberstams.

“When we think about queerness,” Pierce explains, “it’s seen as a universal theory that can be applied everywhere. But often what that does is maintain a framework based on coloniality and white supremacy. What we want to do is question how queerness circulates.”

Accordingly, the young researcher has teamed up with scholars from across the Western hemisphere to produce a special edition of GLQ, an important journal of lesbian and gay studies published by Duke University Press. The forthcoming issue intends to address the limits of queerness outside normative white contexts, and how decolonization and the schema of radical liberation might provide new context to how LGBTQ culture operates in regions like Latin America and the Global South.

An erstwhile contributor to Hyperallergic, Pierce has also written a new book that will release this November, called Argentine Intimacies: Queer Kinship in an Age of Splendor, 1890–1910. The result of extensive archival research, the book is a study into Argentina’s turn-of-the-century crisis of modernity, and how political and economic changes in the country opened up new ways of conceptualizing family.

For a discussion about the relationship between queerness, decolonialiality, culture, and politics, we invited Pierce onto the Hyperallergic Art Movements podcast to share some insight into how he and other academics are trying to evolve queer studies into a more open field of inquiry.

This and more in our current episode of our weekly Art Movements podcast.

The music for this episode is available under the Creative Commons 0 license.


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Zachary Small

Zachary Small was the senior writer at Hyperallergic and has written for The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Nation, The Times Literary Supplement, Artforum, and other publications. They have...

8 replies on “Joseph Pierce on Why Academics Must Decolonize Queerness”

  1. I know soooo many “folx” who are not queer (they have told me in confidence), but refer to themselves as queer to maintain and get grants, residencies, and academic positions.

    1. Yes back during the AIDS crisis I knew of some who lied about being H.I.V positive to get money.

  2. As bored milllennial points out, not only are many pressured into this terminology, but nobody can define it because the second you actually define it, tadah: Everyone is queer. This is just a group of narcissists eager for attention and $$$

    1. Thank you for actually writing this. The narcissism and toxicity in the “Queer” community is soooo rampant; it is all about “me” and absolutely not about “we”.

  3. I appreciated this interview greatly. What troubled me, or what seemed bizarrely contradictory, was Professor Pierce’s near constant reliance on “western” academic and philosophical terminology, from Foucault to Althusser to etc. The very critique he’s mobilizing is enacted or inscribed in the critique itself, which is one way western and institutionalized thought absorbs and recuperates everything, including queerness, including less-than-radical critiques of queerness.

  4. Sperm + egg = life… heterosexuality became the norm when the biology quantified .. is this a joke? You make me sick. Go fight a noble battle you creature of excess and delusion. .

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