The editors of this volume deploy the term ‘‘interanimation’’ to describe the
intellectual dynamic at play in the essays’ various musings. I can think of no
better word or way to describe both this collection and my experience of its
genesis. In April 2000, I traveled to North Carolina to witness an unprece-
dented event: the field in which I had been laboring since my junior year at
Princeton was now coming of age. I moved toward a space that attempted to
define a connection between ‘‘black’’ and ‘‘queer’’ at a time when ‘‘queer’’ had
its own controversial orbit. Would ‘‘queer’’ obfuscate the presence of lesbians
in a movement that, although ‘‘grounded in social and political activism,’’
according to the editors, had its own specific historical struggle over the
‘‘inclusion’’ of women in the story of itself? The academic market, at least its
emerging ‘‘queer’’ constituency, seemed to be interpreting ‘‘identity politics’’
as the root of all evil—simply get rid of ‘‘race’’ (always a fiction?) and the
category of ‘‘woman’’ (already a misnomer?) and we would have our rebirth
on the other side of our problem(s).
While ‘‘queer’’ studies began to define its origins from the complex re-
making of identity politics, those of us already working in the field of black
feminism found this ‘‘new’’ trajectory unsettling—scholars like Hazel Carby
and Hortense Spillers had already unseated the idea of ‘‘woman’’ as a univer-
sal category; Gloria Hull, Barbara Smith, and others had already questioned
the myopic identity politics of civil rights and women’s activist networks. The
question hardly seemed ‘‘new’’ to us at all, but rather more of the same:
remaking discourse in the image of its rightful owners—whitewashing the
product so that it could and would be more palpable to a growing constitu-
ency. Been there, done that. The present tension in the fields of feminist,
ethnic, and queer studies reminded me of a talk I once heard while I was an
Previous Page Next Page