De-centering queer theory

Communist sexuality in the flow during and after the Cold War

Author: Bogdan Popa

"An influential concept in North American queer studies, gender has been forged as part of the anti-communist Cold War and became one of its key analytics at the beginning of the 1990s. In tracing the conceptual history of gender, this book de-centers queer studies and provides an innovative approach by excavating a rival communist sexuality during the Cold War. As opposed to a theory of gender, eastern European Marxism generated a revolutionary imagination that had at its core a dialectical understanding of bodies and sexual acts. This communist understanding of sexuality centered on a productive body that was better able to feel and live than its capitalist counterpart.

The book is original not only because it analyzes competitive models of Cold War sexuality, but also because it inserts historical materialism into queer theory. By drawing on materials from socialist theory, queer studies and communist films, it moves from the 1920s to the 1950s to the 1990s to understand the emergence of contemporary sexual categories. It traces the rise of gender and queer by studying the shared and complicated history of communist history and queer theory. It also provides a new dialectical method by juxtaposing socialist theory and films with queer anti-racist theory. In doing so, it offers a sensuous materiality that transforms the epistemology of a queer of color analytic. The book is an essential contribution to a scholarship that interrogates queer liberalism and new formations of anti-gender ideology.

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