Black queer feminism and the politics of knowledge, 2020

Atlanta University and Clark Atlanta University Theses and Dissertations
Black queer feminism and the politics of knowledge, 2020
Mathews, Tayler J.
Contributor to Resource:
Platt, Teri
Date of Original:
Degrees, Academic
Dissertations, Academic
United States, Georgia, Fulton County, Atlanta, 33.749, -84.38798
This dissertation explores Black queer feminism as a frame of reference relevant to the study of Black political science and the practice of Black politics in the United States. While Black feminist political scientists have moved Black politics scholarship forward, beyond its masculinist focus, much less analysis of the ways in which cisheteronormativity and binary conceptions of gender have informed this scholarship has occurred. This fact renders scholars unprepared to explain critical aspects vis-à-vis Black communities and may explain why few frames of reference illuminate Black queer and trans womxn’s political experiences. Furthermore, because more mainstream subfields such as women and politics, and LGBTQ politics do not consistently embrace racial analyses they cannot generate rigorous insight concerning the lives of Black LGBTQ individuals and groups. The primary research question that guides this dissertation asks, how might a Black queer feminist frame of reference explain the nature of Black queer feminist politics and Black queer and trans political experience? I employ exploratory case studies to build upon the work of Black political scientists by investigating the potential of an alternative lens that is inclusive of Black persons and groups marginalized because of their gender identity and sexuality. A qualitative content analysis is relied upon to examine the activist scholarship of two Black queer womxn, Barbara Smith and Cathy J. Cohen, with the objective of synthesizing a Black queer feminist frame of reference from their political thought. I argue that Black queer feminism is well suited to advance the radical imperative of Black political science. This dissertation produces new knowledge about the scope, possibility, and relevance of political science in two fundamental ways: by exploring an alternative frame to analyze Black womxn and LGBTQ politics I offer a different approach to studying Black politics, women and politics, and LGBTQ politics; therefore, a further contribution is the integration of literatures that are currently understood as discursively distinct. These sub-disciplinary disjunctions render invisible Black queer womxn, and Black queer and trans people more generally. Ultimately, this dissertation inspires counter-hegemonic knowledge, expanding the scope, possibility, and relevance of the discipline while challenging the rigidity of what and who counts as “legitimate” subjects for political science inquiries.
Date of award: 2020-05
Degree type: dissertation
Degree name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Granting institution: Clark Atlanta University
Department: Department of Political Science
Advisor: Platt, Teri
Metadata URL:
Holding Institution:
Clark Atlanta University