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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/912y-ya38


AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

The Semiotic Terrain of Raciogender: A Dialogue


race and racism



Truth is hard. It pulls back the curtain, dispenses with illusion, and insists upon reckoning. The recent homegoing of iconic Black comedian Paul Mooney reminds us, however, that truth is the only way forward. His performances were revered for their unwavering candor, frequently eliciting the enthusiastic refrain, “Say it, Paul!” Likewise encouraged, linguistic anthropologist Lanita Jacobs (2009) has “been charged, on many occasions, by Blackwomen scholars, mothers, clients, friends, etc. to “Tell the truth”” Concordant with the theme of this year’s annual meeting, the scholars on this roundtable will speak truth to power in discussing the semiotic terrain of raciogender. Remarkable silences remain in anthropology around the meaningful ways race and gender intersect. While there is a rich and long history of Blackfeminist anthropology spanning many subdisciplines (McClaurin 2001), misogynoir persists across the field, the academy, and the world. Over a year after the 2020 surge in protests against anti-Black police brutality precipitated by officers murdering George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, no officers have been charged for the shooting death of the latter. And yet, not long after, Kamala Harris became the first Blackwoman to serve as Vice President of the United States. What truths can anthropology tell about the gendered dimensions of anti-Black state violence? What truths can it tell about what Kimberlé Crenshaw (1991) described as “representational intersectionality”? These types of questions, those that demand earnest consideration of how raciogender’s multiplicative effects influence our lives and institutions, motivation our interest in holding space for dialogue. As such, this roundtable focuses on the ways meaning-making practices and signification reveal the mutual constitutions of language, race, and gender as well as the sociopolitical implications therein. We discuss, specifically, the ways embodied and linguistic performances of Black genders (understood as also inextricable from sexuality) construct a topographic terrain of discourse. Toward that end, we bring together a group of scholars coming from various angles on the subject, allowing us to bring often isolated perspectives together, generating cross-pollination of ideas. The range of perspective among our participants opens a unique space for concurrent discussion of such diverse topics as racialized masculinity in digital space, the construction of cosmopolitan femininity through racialised appropriation in global musical performance, the discursive construction of Blackfemme sacred geographies, the reproductive capabilities of performativity on the blackqueerfeminine plane, and so on. This conversation, we suggest further, requires attending to the responsibility and ability of anthropology to disrupt anti-Blackness, misogyny, and queer/transphobia (among other societal ails) in the study of humanity. We will attempt to, as Audre Lorde (1978) put it, transform “silence into language and action”.


Transcript English (automatic)

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