October 2nd, I spent the length of the day (and into the night) surrounded by other folks deeply invested in discussing why LGBT studies scholars (among others) haven’t thought that much about queer life outside cities. The symposium, organized by the amazing Nadine Hubbs (http://www NULL.music NULL.umich NULL.edu/faculty_staff/bio NULL.php?u=&lname=hubbs&fname=nadine), Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Music Theory at University of Michigan, looked at the state of queer debate when it comes to working class, rural, and nonmetropolitan studies. Two things that really struck me about not only the papers but the questions and comments from the audience participants: 1) the interdisciplinarity of the conversation and 2) the pressing desire for a return to a meatier, more critical analysis of class. In some cases, our different academic training pushed us to translate our work in ways that I found incredibly exciting. For example, I found myself constantly qualifying my comments–clarifying that, for the communities I worked with, poverty and rurality go hand-in-hand. Most (but not all) of the youth I worked with came from and continue to live lives defined by what they can’t access. Most have extremely limited social and economic resources. Even in cases where they or their families might tentatively occupy the middle class their rural surroundings complicate the value of their incomes (even if you make $50,000 a year, it doesn’t give you greater local access to better schools, medical care, or cultural scenes because those structures and services just aren’t there to buy).
There is so much more to say about this symposium but I need more time to digest my thoughts before I I can say much more here. I do feel like the graduate students I met suggest that there is now momentum to move us past the conversation of “gee, queer studies should really look at this.” Finally.
Thanks Nadine, Terri, and all the other UMich folks for hosting.