Queer of color critique

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Queer of color critique is a methodology that recognizes the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, capital, and nation, and disidentifies with the universality of social categories present in canonical sociology and historical materialism. Roderick Ferguson is credited with coining this term in his 2004 book Aberrations in Black, and draws from woman of color feminism, postcolonial studies, queer theory and African American studies.[1] In his critique of canonical sociology, Ferguson argues that racialized heteronormativity and heteropatriarchy has played a conspicuous role in shaping sociology and social policy, and recognizes its intersection with revolutionary nationalism.[2] Queer of color critique operates as a method for building unlikely coalitions across different identity categories. In framing queer of color critique, Ferguson draws from Barbara Smith and the Combahee River Collective's use of coalitional politics to address gender, race, and sexuality in context with capitalist expansion.


Queer of color critique has been taken up by multiple scholars as an attempt at a more intersectional framework on which to build and extend their work in various, sometimes intersecting academic subjects.[3][4][5][6]

Queerness and indigeneity[edit]

Though most references at the intersection of queerness and indigeneity fall on Two-Spirit identity and ideas surrounding it, queer of color critique extends the discussion to settler colonialism, future potentialities of Native identity and life, and general discourse about how Native Studies as an academic study can benefit from a sort of "queering". According to scholar Andrea Smith, looking at indigeneity from this perspective questions the limitations of a "subjectless" or "postidentity" analysis in regards to the shedding of a particular ethnic identity, which in itself has roots in colonialist and nationalist ideology. On the other hand, even this sort of critique does not fully acknowledge the extent of the absence of indigeneity in the context of direct and indirect investment in settler colonialism by those of color doing the critiquing.[5][7]

De-colonial Studies[edit]

The unraveling of colonialist ideology,—the belief in a normative society—according to scholar Emma Perez, is necessary to fully understand national histories and identities, specifically of queer individuals.[8]

Queer diasporic critique[edit]

Queer diasporic critique can be considered an extension of and complement to queer of color critique in that it considers ethnic and cultural identity as an underlying context when analyzing and critiquing arguments based on Eurocentric, white centered queer theories, as well as critiquing the heteronormativity of area studies. Oftentimes, these ideas are connected to ideas of nationhood and national identity.[9][10] In the words of scholar Gayatri Gopinath, "While both queer of color and queer diasporic analysis are part of a collective endeavor to reshape queer studies through a thorough engagement with questions of race, nationalism, and transnationalism, it may also be useful to explore some of the points at which the interventions and emphases of each project both intersect and diverge." In this respect, critique emphasizing diaspora tends to focus more on a "global restructuring of capital and its attendant gender and sexual hierarchies" and the creation of "home" in regards to diaspora and transnationalism.[4]

Queer Muslims[edit]

An example of queer of color critique in practice can be seen in the analysis of queer Muslims in Europe done by scholar Fatima El-Tayeb, which touches on the larger themes explored in queer theory. Among these is the idea of "coming-out" as a person of diaspora, which challenges the currently held notion of its role in the creation of a "normative, healthy and desirable LGBT identity". Another describes how the idea of Islamophobia permeates into the intersectional oppressions faced by queer Muslims in the west. The ideas of migration and "home" are also critiqued in that the ethnic migrant laborer lives amongst an "increasingly segregated, criminalized and policed multi-ethnic population of color". These queer diasporic and queer of color critiques therefore act as a lens through which to view homonormativity and the various facets through which is functions.[3][11]

As a type of community manifestation of this type of critique, the queer of color activist group Strange Fruit: A Dutch Queer Collective takes an intersectional, colored approach to queer activism. This helps undermine binaries such as the "Muslim/European dichotomy to the normative coming out narrative", which, according to El-Tayeb, perpetuate homonormativity and racism.[3]


Some notable scholars who have incorporated queer of color critique into their work are Roderick Ferguson, Jesus Values-Morales, Andrea Smith, Gayatri Gopinath, Fatima El-Tayeb, Martin Manalansan IV, Juana María Rodríguez, José Esteban Muñoz, Emma Perez, Edward Brockenbrough, Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, Amy Villarejo, Jasbir Puar, Scott Lauria Morgensen, Kevin K. Kumashiro, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Chandan Reddy, Jennifer C. Nash, and others.


  1. ^ Valles-Morales, Jesus. "On Queer of Color Criticism, Communication Studies, and Corporeality. Kaleidoscope: A Graduate Journal of Qualitative Communication Research 14 (2015)
  2. ^ Albertine, Susan. "Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique (Book Review)." American Literature 77.3 (2005).
  3. ^ a b c El-Tayeb, F. "'Gays Who Cannot Properly Be Gay': Queer Muslims in the Neoliberal European City." European Journal of Women's Studies 19.1 (2012): 79-95. Web.
  4. ^ a b Gopinath, Gayatri. "Bollywood Spectacles: Queer Diasporic Critique in the Aftermath of 9/11." Social Text 23.3-4 84-85 (2005): 157-69. Web.
  5. ^ a b Smith, Andrea. "Queer Theory and Native Studies: The Heteronormativity of Settler Colonialism." GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 16.1-2 (2010): 41-68. Web.
  6. ^ Muñoz, José Esteban. Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 2015. Print.
  7. ^ Morgensen, Scott Lauria. Spaces between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 2011. Print.
  8. ^ Perez, Emma (2003). "Queering the Borderlands: The Challenges of Excavating the Invisible and Unheard". Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. 24: 122–131 – via Project MUSE.
  9. ^ Puar, Jasbir K. (2008-06-01). "'the Turban Is Not a Hat': Queer Diaspora and Practices of Profiling". Sikh Formations. 4 (1): 47–91. doi:10.1080/17448720802075439. ISSN 1744-8727.
  10. ^ Lesk, Andrew. "Queerly Canadian: An Introductory Reader in Sexuality Studies Ed. by Maureen FitzGerald and Scott Rayter (review)." University of Toronto Quarterly. University of Toronto Press, 28 Oct. 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
  11. ^ Puar, Jasbir K. Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer times. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2008. Print.

Further reading[edit]