Kendall, Laurie. "From the Liminal to the Land: Building Amazon Culture at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival," American Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, April 2006.Bonus abstract!
Every year in August, thousands of womyn from around the globe make a journey that takes them from the liminal world of patriarchal marginalization, oppression, and violence to the safety of a land where they build a matriarchal culture of families, homes, and sacred traditions. This new culture binds these womyn to each other as a people and to the 650 acres in Michigan that they call their homeland. This dissertation is a five-year ethnographic study of the cultural community womyn build at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. It focuses on the experiences of 32 participants, and the physical work they do to create a world that places their minds and bodies, their values and experiences, and their relationships in the center of their own community structures. By inverting the concept of liminality used to describe lesbian cultural spaces, this study reframes these womyn as a diasporic group who journey home once each year to reconnect with their home, family, and sacred traditions. The significance of the study is that it demonstrates the ways womyn resist patriarchal oppression by using love as a technology for building a matriarchal culture. Theorectically, by inverting the concept of liminality, researchers might better understand and articulate the interlocking structures of power and oppression, as well as the “methodologies” that marginalized people use to resist oppressive forces in American culture.
Moon, Jennifer. "Cruising and Queer Counterpublics: Theories and Fictions," American Culture, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, December 2005.
My dissertation examines cruising—the aggressive solicitation of sexual contacts in public spaces—as a form of sexual and social interaction that contributes to the development of queer counterpublics. As depicted in post-WWII fiction and contemporary media representations, I argue that cruising offers a radically compelling vision of intimacy, sexual identity, and belonging that deviates from the normative model of the privatized conjugal couple and nuclear family, while also structuring alternative, publicly queer modes of existence. By drawing on queer social theory and contemporary cultural studies, I situate my analysis of cruising texts within the context of democratic cultural politics and queer media representation. My dissertation moves from the general to the particular—from a social-theoretical perspective on the relationship between public sexuality and identity, to a consideration of queer counterpublic intimacies and lesbian cruising representations. The first half develops the theoretical framework of the dissertation through the juxtaposition of social theory and contemporary cultural analysis, and it examines queer identity-formation in terms of mainstream recognition and belonging. It connects the public sphere’s exclusionary norms to theories of recognition and stigma, and it argues that queer identity-formation is an ongoing process shaped by both structural inequalities and interpersonal interaction. The second half considers the sexually non-normative subject in relation to queer counterpublics and attempts to articulate a theory of queer counterpublicity that is not organized around the identitarian categories of gay and lesbian. Instead, they propose a relational understanding of homosexuality and suggest that shared conditions of marginalization can constitute a queer form of belonging. My exploration of cruising as a form of intimacy seeks to document different configurations of queer sexual community and, in doing so, to reclaim aspects of queer public culture that may be seen as antithetical to the aims of the mainstream gay and lesbian movement.