Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Queer theory

I received a call for papers from IASPM (that's the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, for those who might not know) today, and I found the write-up quite interesting. It deals with queer theory, and I think that it is one of the most misunderstood areas of theoretical inquiry around (especially in my immediate scholarly circles). So here is the write up:
Queer theory is likely one of the most well-known and controversial recent schools of thought, and its impact has been felt in the academic world and beyond. It appeared in the early 1990s in the United States, as a direct offshoot of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) collectives, the work of Foucault (in particular, his History of Sexuality and ideas such as “biopolitics”), and Derrida’s deconstructionism. This school of thought, while in no way a homogenous trend, is characterized by the questioning of the notion of gender and the idea that sexual identity and behaviour would be genetically determined. In this context, queer theory formulates the hypothesis that sexuality is actually a social construction. This presumes that sexuality is not biologically stamped on human nature, but rather takes on ever-changing social forms, wherein a given individual can live out one or many sexual identities. This hypothesis leads us to call into question social classifications from the fields of traditional psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology, which tend to look at one measure at a time for classifying individuals (class, gender, etc.).

Musicology has also fallen under the influence of queer theory, what with the research groups, books, articles, and dissertations that address previously unexplored or even taboo issues, such as the construction of sexual identity through or in music. From a methodological perspective, this school of thought has been part of the recent theoretical renewal at an international level, wherein “traditional” methods of musical analysis and historical musicology are used in concert with historical, sociological, literary, aesthetic, anthropological, and socio-geographical techniques. This allows the researcher to apprehend the construction process of the musical “object” and its social dimension in all its complexity.
If interested, you can find the original call for papers here.

By the way, I do this in my work, I think.

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