Editors Note ‘Queering Anthropology’

by Rae Teitelbaum (they/them) & Anna Rohmann (she/ her)

PhD Student at Goldsmiths, University of London

rteit001(@gold.ac.uk), arohm001(@gold.ac.uk)

Cover Image: Feli Moana

“The future is queerness’ domain. Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see the future beyond the quagmire of the present. The here and now is a prison house. […] we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds … Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world”

-(Muñoz, 2009, p. 1)

In this third issue of Anthways, we are celebrating queerness in anthropology and taking a closer look at what possibilities for another world, queer and trans histories, communities, narratives, and theories offer. Queerness cannot and should not be attempted to be made tame, normalized, or domesticated by the institution. It is unruly, wild, and radical by nature. However, queerness as radical political practice, tool, mode, and approach to research, analysis, love, community, and life can be harnessed to provide deeper ways of thinking and doing differently. It goes beyond simply being a shared politics of identity or who you are attracted to, it is also how you see, think, imagine, and participate in the world, rooted in non-normativity, curiosity, and experiments in living and thinking otherwise.

This year, Anthways invited submissions reflecting on the positionality of queer researchers, applied queer theories, and asked researchers to contemplate their own experiences being a queer researcher, using queer methods, and or thinking through queerness within the discipline of Anthropology now and moving forward.

Queering research, anthropology, or ethnography, in particular, requires a process of questioning and deconstructing colonialism and cis-heteronormative, patriarchal structures, which are the foundation for current Western society and academic norms, methods, and approaches that define the discipline of anthropology. It requires centering queer, trans, black, feminist, indigenous, and decolonial approaches to research. It requires slowing down, reflexiveness, thoughtfulness, asking deeper questions, and it requires an even deeper listening. Following Linda Tuhiwai Smith, “The challenge always is to demystify, to decolonize” (1999, p. 16). In the spirit of queering not only research but also academic publishing, we had a network of peers review the submissions with care. This was not done in ‘blind review’, as we believe that anybody has biases towards certain writing styles, canons etc. It is another way to queer, to think in a way that is other or outside of the established norm that creates the possibility for more caring conversations about how we are coming into our research, the impacts of our presence in these spaces, the needs and desires of others, and the ripples and waves we make in people’s lives, including our own, as a result of the relationships that we form.

Our undergrad submission, providing a space for early-stage academics to express their ideas in further efforts to disrupt institutional structures whose voices are heard, radically questions and queers the understanding of what it means to be human. This connects directly with the work of Anna Dobos (she/her), featured in this journal, who writes on our relationship to technology, AI and humans’ inherent ‘cyborgness’ in The Artificial Beholder and Our Digital Dreams.

Addressing a related issue, Qingyi Ren (they/them) from The University of Arts, Linz&Basel Academy of Art and Design FHNW problematizes the illusion of “technical neutrality” in regards to gender recognition software. Queering Digital Space: How Queer Bodies Disturb the Gender Binary in Facial Recognition offers insights into how AI needs to change to be more inclusive of transgender and non-binary people and thus reduce harmful uses of technology in general.

Moving from entanglements of bodies and technology to decolonizing emotional, embodied experiences, Lu Willson (they/them) embraces the question Can Queering Documentary provide Queer Tools to Decolonise Documentary Filmmaking (and Dismantle the Master’s House)? They draw on visual anthropology, autobiographical and collaborative methods to challenge how anthropological knowledges are constructed.

In Our Earthly Queer and Trans Kinship Song by Rae Teitelbaum (they/them), they weave poetry with theory and questions about queering research, and engage with ideas and experiences of kinship and community, as well as what embodied and meaningful research can look and feel like. Sprouting from their fieldwork working with queer and trans eco-communities in Spain and Portugal, they explore experiments in writing, research, and living in connection with human and more-than-human worlds.

In their piece (Insider) Outsider: One Queer Anthropologist’s Encounter with the Growing Weed of Positionality, Ray Abu-Jaber (they/she) problematizes positionalities of queer researchers and what role that plays for ethical questions and engagement with the (desired) impact of ‘our’ research. For them, holding on to the tensions and troubles of being a queer researcher and researching queerness can sit next to queer joy in an enriching way.

Making an issue engaging with all these topics remains a highly political act. In this third Anthways issue, Queering Anthropology, we not only celebrate queerness and LGBTQIA2S+ researchers in anthropology, placing a spotlight on queer and trans ways of thinking, doing, and undoing, but we also make room for discomfort, challenges, and questioning. Queer and trans people have always existed in every society and culture and have been historically documented in cave paintings, tombs in ancient Egypt, in indigenous languages, rituals, and histories (Prower, 2018; Picq and Tikuna, 2019). Sadly, so many BIPOC, queer, and transgender lives and histories have been erased, omitted, buried, or deemed not worthy of recording or remembering. We live in a world where 64 countries still criminalize homosexuality, and are in a moment of worldwide homophobic and transphobic attacks both in the world of legislation and everyday lives.

By embracing the multiplicity and potential queerness of anthropology and accepting the diversity, flexibility, and fluidity within the discipline, we hope this issue inspires the creation of more caring spaces for a more inclusive, expansive, queer future of anthropological research. These contributions urge us to ask questions that may unsettle, destabilize, and reconfigure our understandings to produce exciting and distinct knowledges and new ways of knowing.

We want to thank all of our peer-reviewers, editors, social media officers, web editors – the entire journal team. Having a community of and for queer researchers puts us in a privileged position to enact the queerness within us, which resulted in this journal edition. We also want to thank all the authors for their openness and trust in us to share their experiences and submissions. Without their fantastic work this imagining of possibilities would not have been possible!