When Race Displaces: Queer/Race Geographies and the Politics of Difference

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Wong, Emily
Social Geography , Critical Race , Queer Studies , Politics of Difference
This thesis explores the spatialities of oppression between individuals involved in activist organizations. Oppression is a concept which has been extensively examined and challenged in feminist and anti-racist geographies. Yet those who practice anti-oppressive politics are still under the influence of those systems, as resistance is also influenced and produced through systems of oppression. This research project draws on the experiences of queer and racialized individuals in order to explore how oppression is enacted within communities which seek to challenge domination and marginalization. Qualitative interviews with participants reveal patterns of oppression and how processes of human differentiation take place within their respective community organizations. Participants’ constructions of identity and community provide insight into the prevalence of the ideal of community, and the ways in which communities may be failing to actualize solidarity across difference. Namely, they discuss how normatively white queer organizations can often struggle with issues of racialization. Conceptualizations of identity are situated within theories of intersectionality and performativity, revealing uneven affective geographies and tensions of identity politics. Using the framework of the politics of difference, the construction of difference is examined in relationship to the grounds of race and gender/sexual identity. While the affirmation of difference can be desirable, doing so requires re-scaled, context-specific approaches to avoid generalizations which lead to the reinscription of marginalization. Queer/race social positionalities are negotiated and experienced in a multitude of ways, exposing how locations of community are simultaneously locations of exclusion.
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