Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 SXSSG Student Paper Competition!
Jake Silver, a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Anthropology at Duke University, won first place for his paper, “Of trains, tensions, and temptations: sexuality’s shapes amidst Israel/Palestine’s colonial landscape.” His paper’s abstract is below:
Abstract: This article explores the shape of queer sexual urges and habits along the Jerusalem light rail, a route whose role in normalizing Israeli occupation and colonialism has been hotly contested since it opened in 2011. I bring attention to how this one infrastructure can invite both colonial and sexual relations; the two, then, slip and slide into one another, the same infrastructure providing a shared setting to cruise for both security dangers and enticing strangers. I argue that the light rail—the national and security interests that went into producing it, the eventual material shape it took, and how it altered the colonial landscape—has entwined forms of surveillance, suspicion, and sexuality, deeply affecting how individuals gauge, judge, sense, and watch one another. Ideology, in other words, haunts sexuality as it lurks within and through built environments, the exact environments wherein sex rouses and arouses the senses. Infrastructures like the light rail, then, not only weave together empire with desire, but so too do they alter modes of navigation for those that feel the many eyes, both surveilling and cruising, that are watching them.
Robert Chlala, a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Southern California, won second place for his paper, “Misfit Medicine and More-than-Labor Solidarities: Queer Geographies of Los Angeles’ Diverse Economies of Cannabis.” His paper’s abstract is below:
Abstract: Fundamentally shaped by queer activism and labor, cannabis economies offer an opportunity to understand how “diverse economies”, as defined by Gibson-Graham (2005, 2007), can also mark the frontiers of shifting queer politics and spatial relations. Drawing from nearly 4 years of ethnographic observation and 70-plus interviews, I analyze how numerous queer Black, Latinx, and Asian women and transgender economic actors in cannabis have organized collectively and worked through their daily practices to make cannabis dispensaries a space of care and solidarity. Fundamental to their work are cross-state queer kin networks that defined this alternative market starting in the 1980s AIDS crisis in the US. More recently, in the face of precarity and economic exclusion, queer workers have also drawn upon their position a turn to the body as a scale of intimate, economic action and a scaffolding for collective action across scales. In the context of Los Angeles, such work must also be understood as both responding to the ravages of mass incarceration related to the War on Drugs but also drawing from resurgent social movement union politics. In total, these interrelations – which queer women and transgender economic actors must grapple with in their daily labors – suggest that any analytics of queer politics and diverse economic possibilities must account for the very complexities and contradictions of late-capitalist geographies that render these arenas spatially and temporally-contingent and bound by racial, gender, and other hierarchies of difference.