[CFP] The Queer Commons


The Queer Commons: A Special Issue of GLQ

Gavin Butt (University of Sussex)
Nadja Millner-Larsen (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Please send inquiries and submissions to:

The concept of the commons has become a central category of contemporary political discourse. However, queer artistic and political initiatives which model or put into practice the form of the commons often fail to be registered within and by such discourse. This special issue asks whether or not it is possible therefore to theorise a queer commons, and – if it is – what it might look like within social, political and cultural practice. Can a queer commons be found across historical periods in, for example, various sexually dissident communities; from drag queen communes to anarcho-queer punk collectives? In the context of the ‘privatizing’ of the gay agenda in recent decades in the west, is the refusal of capitalist accumulation and ownership, typical of the commons form, at play within recent queer political rejections of marriage equality, for example, or rights-based legislation more broadly? Can public queer sex, promiscuity, and polyamory be understood as different modes of a “sexual commons”? How might queer migration activists and queer ecological movements be understood as striving for a better world in the shape of a queer commons? And can campaigns to share scientific knowledge and democratize drug access by trans- and HIV/AIDS-activists be seen as commons-forming?

We pose these questions enabled by the recent work of scholars, activists, and artists who have done much to lay the groundwork for the debates we wish to stage in this issue. Recent cultural theory has variously foregrounded the commons as a resource with non-exclusive rights of access or use, and it has turned to radical ontologies of the common in order to reconsider the essential multiplicity of personhood—a multiplicity (arguably) at the root of queer theory’s refutation of the singular subject. Meanwhile, Queer Studies has also deepened its account of political-economy by taking on the sexual economies of neoliberalism, global migration, and the intimacies of social reproduction. But even though the discourse of the commons has developed in concert with feminist theorizations of labor and anti-work politics (especially from within Italian autonomism), the relationship between queer theory and queer life on the one hand, and accounts of communization on the other, have typically been held apart. We thus envision this special issue as opening a site of productive convergence for these two trajectories of contemporary thought. Can the discourse of the commons help us to identify queer practices of group belonging and collectivization resistant to the violent exclusions of contemporary forms of social organization?

As scholars of visual art and performance, we would particularly welcome contributions which focus on art’s capacities to imagine, or even pre-figure, a queer commons. Ideas of a queer commons as utopian, and supporters / detractors of such an idea, would be especially welcome. In this regard, this special issue of GLQ is indebted to the work of the late queer performance scholar José Esteban Muñoz, both to his work on queer utopianism and his emergent work on the notion of the queer commons, tragically cut short by an early death.

We wish to solicit new scholarship from across the disciplinary divides and from different national and trans-national contexts. We are also interested in soliciting collectively authored work.

Contributions could additionally address:
– relations between discourses of the commons and of sexuality; the connections and disconnects between ideas of common ownership and of desire; the anti-proprietorial impulse in queer culture and politics
– DIY and self-organization; e.g. communitarian methods of organizing against violence without recourse to policing and criminalization
– radical ontological ideas and practices of being with or being-in-common; the world-making force of non-normative modes of association and filiation; queer takes on relational ontologies of multiplicity (e.g. Glissant’s ontology of world-in-relation or Nancy’s singular-plural)
– communalism in LGBTQI cultures; historical co-operatives or activist groups (e.g. Combahee River Collective); artist collectives.
– the common as demotic form: queer uses of the vulgar, vernacular and ‘low’ in the name of democracy
– relations between queer cultures and socialism, communism and/or anarchism
– global migration, queer mobilizations of refugee and exile communities
– queer theorizations of climate and ecological crises
– creative commons: queer techno-cultural spaces of communization and/or queer critiques of the neoliberalization of the creative commons;
– the body as a commons and a site of enclosure
– normativity and anti-normativity as it relates to the commons (e.g. separating out commonality from normativity)
– queer space: the logic of “safe space” as both a potential commons and a site of regulation/criminalization/securitization; questions of social and cultural access to queer space; exclusionary vs inclusionary principles more broadly (separatism, for example, or other group formations)
– intersectionality and the commons
– queer engagements with the organization of land-use and the politics of indigeneity
– queer accounts of alternative education and modes of pedagogical engagement

GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies is a Duke University Press publication

**We are looking for short abstracts (500 words) for contributions to be considered for inclusion in this volume. Final contributions will be in the form of EITHER full academic essays OR shorter contributions to a commons “dossier”. Please mark your abstract “essay” or “dossier” to indicate your desired contribution type, and also include a one-page CV. Please send any enquiries and submissions to: GLQqueercommons@gmail.com

DEADLINE: September 16th, 2016.