Letter to America

By Members of the UA Institute for LGBT Studies Faculty Advisory Committee

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November 2016

We are bordered, but our inquiry will remain unbound.
We will continue to resist the mandate for conquest, extraction, and containment.1
We support radical, consensual inquiry and education.

Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres

(Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.)
  — Gloria Anzaldúa, How to Tame a Wild Tongue

Our friends are all those affected by ongoing and newly distributed vulnerabilities. And those who are afraid. We have been broken—wide open. And from this opening emerges new growth born of a co-mingling of hopelessness and also hope that, together, move us. We are dispirited and spirited at once. We remember together, following Audre Lorde, we were never meant to survive. And still, we are here. Thinking. Loving. Living. Listening. Crying. Imagining. Feeling. Connecting. Creating. Anew.

At the Institute for LGBT Studies, we won’t be disciplinarily bound. We will continue to cross disciplines, to write across differences, and to practice radical intersectionality and promiscuous citations. Inspired by Audra Simpson’s work, our politics of refusal together with our always contingent world-making practices—which Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner remind us necessarily include more people and spaces than can be identified, but which remain haunted by absences and filled with grief—attend to but are not exhausted by: queer kinship, the everyday, migration, black lives, (brown) bodies, third space, disabilities, borders, economy, trans* lives, the earth, the stranger, WOC feminisms, dispossessions, deportation, multiplicities, memory, their names, histories, the undocumented, students, precarity, securitization, fashion, labor, health and healing, QTPOC, the land, Muslims, decolonial action, mobility, erotics, empire, imagined futures, the newly arrived, queer archives and living histories, food justice, surveillance, antisemitism, sexual violence, redistributions, sensations, sanctuary, Latinx, gender, trauma, art, feeling, poverty, sensual knowledges, refugees, nation, sex, human rights and justice, water, walls, AIDS, sustainability, excess, disabilities, feminist and trans* pedagogies, Chicanx, poetics, settler-state governances and violences, the carceral state, intimacies, race, the non-normative, the repressive, the non-dominant, the detained, deported, and incarcerated as well as those seeking exit, entry, and emancipation.

We resist everyday infusions of fear and suspicion that are implicated in calls for deportation, containment, domination, and war. As queer scholars, the only camp we care to create is one of multiplicity where the pleasurable, playful, plentiful, passionate, and erotic is explicitly cultivated. It is a place and performance of gaiety and re-fashionings through which we recognize one another in love, desire, and consent for meaningful, respectful relationships, relational knowings, dis/identifications and un/doings. Always toward a more just world.

We are multiply-situated scholars whose senses have been newly awakened through revitalized pulsations, sorrow, and raw desires for meaningful, relational gestures, touch, reciprocal connections, nourishing care, and coalitions in the service of the production of new and gustatory knowledges that can address our ever-growing appetite for queer world-re-making. We are in search of new configurations and new attachments as well as new ways of looking, feeling, hearing, relating, and doing to attend to the urgencies of our time. Sometimes in a flash. Sometimes slowly. Non-subtly. Thoughtfully. In critical and creative ways.

We will work together for the Institute for LGBT Studies, a university-wide research institute, to continue to support and sustain the work that LGBTQI scholars at UA have undertaken for more than 20 years—to make the University of Arizona a place where queer and trans* research and scholarship happens, where LGBTQI-related pedagogy is produced and enacted, and which advances a transnational perspective on race, sexuality, and gender that is informed by the critique of globalization.

We will continue to collectively support initiatives housed at the Institute including the Arizona Queer Archives, an expanding site of community stories and scholarly interest; the Queer Migration Research Network that critically explores the articulation between international migration dynamics and LGBTQ individuals, communities, histories, cultures, arts, and politics; and the Transgender Studies Initiative, undertaken to create and draw from trans* methodologies to inform research in areas of inquiry including sex/gender variance, gender nonconformity, and diverse embodiments.

We will continue to invite and to host cutting-edge scholars, thinkers, writers, speakers, and artists to our campus, and to work to attract visiting scholars from around the world to participate with us—playfully, pleasurably, and in outrage—in free thinking and the pursuit of radical inquiry and transformational education.

This is work we have always been doing. We do it now with renewed energy, commitment, y con tod@ corazón. Solidaridad.

To the then and there of queer futurity…
— José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia


Signed by Members of the University of Arizona Institute for LGBT Studies Faculty Advisory Committee:

Ana Cornide
Francisco J. Galarte
Adam Geary
Miranda Joseph
Jamie A. Lee
Eithne Luibhéid
Adela C. Licona
V Spike Peterson
Susan Stryker


[1] For more on resisting such mandates see Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark. Vintage, 2007; and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s “Land as pedagogy: Nishnaabeg intelligence and rebellious transformation.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 3.3 (2014).


Works Cited
Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands: la frontera. San Francisco: Aunt Lute, 1987.

Berlant, Lauren, and Michael Warner. “Sex in public.” Critical inquiry 24.2 (1998): 547-566.

Lorde, Audre. “ A Litany for Survival.” In The black unicorn: Poems. WW Norton & Company, 1995.

Muñoz, José Esteban. Cruising utopia: The then and there of queer futurity. NYU Press, 2009.

Simpson, Audra. Mohawk interruptus: Political life across the borders of settler states. Duke University Press, 2014.

Wilson, Liliana. Jaula/El Prisionero. 2016/2004. Austin, Texas.


Ana Cornide is an Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies and Critical Service Learning in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Arizona. A central point for her research has been the cultural politics of migration and the figure of the migrant as a site of cross-cultural dialogue.

Francisco J. Galarte is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona, as well as a faculty member of the Transgender Studies Initiative at the Institute for LGBT Studies. His research interests include Chicana/o Studies, Queer Studies, Affect Studies, and Transgender Studies.

Adam Geary is an Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on the US AIDS epidemic and is currently developing a psychoanalysis of HIV and AIDS, attending to unconscious processes forming disease knowledges, pragmatics, and politics.

Miranda Joseph is Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona and a former director of the Institute for LGBT Studies. Her research uses the tools of cultural studies to explore the relationship between economic processes and social formations, most recently examining the many deployments of “accounting” in life under capitalism.

Jamie A. Lee is an Assistant Professor of Digital Culture, Information, and Society, in the School of Information at the University of Arizona, as well as the Founding Director/Archivist of the Arizona Queer Archives of the Institute for LGBT Studies. Her work attends to critical archival theory and methodologies, multimodal media-making contexts, storytelling, bodies, and the ways archives and bodies are mutually constituitive.

Adela C. Licona is the Interim Director of the Institute for LGBT Studies, Associate Professor of English, and Associate Chair of the GIDP in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory at the University of Arizona. Her current research draws from Visual Rhetorics, Latin@, Queer, Affect and Ethnic Studies and is concerned with (manufactured) distortions of migrants, migration, and borders as these permeate the US social imaginary in what she theorizes as a “regime of distortion.” She is also at work on a participatory project titled “Altaring/Altering the Landscapes” which will address environmental and migration justice.

Eithne Luibhéid is Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona and a former director of the Institute for LGBT Studies. Her research analyzes the connections among queer lives, state immigration controls, and justice struggles with a focus on queer undocumented migrants.

V Spike Peterson is Professor of International Relations in the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona. Her research interests cover informalizations of work in relation to structural inequalities and their corollary insecurities worldwide, global householding, gendering war and its economies, and critical queering of marriage, citizenship and states/nations.

Susan Stryker is an Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona and a former director of the Institute for LGBT Studies where she lead the organization of the Transgender Studies Initiative and the first annual International Trans* Studies Conference. Her research focuses are Transgender and Queer studies with emphasis on film and media, built environments, somatechnics, and critical theory.

Painting in header image, Jaula, by Liliana Wilson.

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