Maria Kranidis on “The Relevance of Race for the Study of Sexuality” by Roderick Ferguson
Ferguson begins his analysis of racialized sexualities by disclaiming that “many social formations …interpret constantly assume new types of imbrications and that there is a need for a careful interrogation of new forming racialized sexualities by the way the steady accumulation of historical knowledge forces new theoretical structures. He emphasizes that we now after this accumulation of knowledge recognize that sexuality has multiple domains for its production and several objectives in terms of power.
Ferguson appears to have a system in mind of how sexuality and racial structures of inequality become theoretical domains of how racism, economic disfranchisement and patriarchy are few of those domains. Here he includes the location according to this theoretical framework where domestic violence and differences between women of color and white women.
Intersectionality theorizes social production-therefore it disables material inequalities and does not offer distinctions between categories of color. These intersections do overlap. Here Ferguson distinguishes the economic with the political and structural intersectionality which goes beyond the elements of social formation.
Theoretical studies have advanced the understanding that sexuality faces oppositional formations that deploy it. “Traditional disciplinary boundaries became containers for subjects whose lives traverse the categories meant to contain them.”
Ferguson lists a large number of books that address the issue of epistemic transformation on how black lesbian and women of color have motivated such a transformation. But Ferguson’s main concern seems to be the study of racialized sexuality and in order to understand it we must look at the historical contexts that give rise to them. Here of course Michel Foucault becomes an ally and a focus. Time into modernity has distinguished historical imaginings and real places and spaces where different applications of the study of sexuality appear.
In addressing Foucault’s problematic relations between power, knowledge and sexuality, Ferguson suggests we must look at the political epistemology that certain critical inquiry is dismissed in Foucault as medicine and psychology is dismissed by Marxist theorists.
In this attempt Ferguson to consider how race and sexuality demand that we reconsider the relationships between sexuality and epistemology and sexuality and power, especially in economic practices and the historiography of sexuality. Here, IK wonder if Ferguson is including Marxism while addressing political issues which Foucault did not include in his history of sexuality. Ferguson continues his own study to understand the ways in which sexuality becomes instrumental for racial projects and formations.
Questions: How do we separate queer from gender?
Race is social but not in gender?
Is Ferguson writing in order to analyze the hierarchical structure assumed about Foucault?
I am not sure I understand your questions fully — what is the “hierarchical structure assumed about Foucault”? And do you think that Ferguson is proposing a non-social understanding of gender?
I think that Ferguson’s reading of The History of Sexuality in the context of later work about race is a really helpful addition to the conversations we had in class on Tuesday and Wednesday in response to Stoler and to the question of how Foucault’s analysis of power relates to the project of seeking equality. I hope we can talk about that in class!