Shifting Gender Identities in the Face of War, Globalization, and Natural Disaster
It may be said that we live in desperate times. Following September 11, 2001, it became 'unpatriotic' for U.S. citizens to question or criticize their presidential administration while, in the global arena, that same administration claimed that engaging in so-called 'pre-emptive,' warfare was both moral and necessary. Powerful social and political forces seek to undermine gains made by racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual minorities since the mid-twentieth century, even as the culture at large pays lip service to increasingly corporatized and sanitized notions of 'diversity.' And while the aforementioned administration invoked the rhetoric of an equal and free society to justify its continued presence in Iraq, massive hurricanes in the American south revealed deep domestic disparities around class and race that the administration seemed ill-prepared to acknowledge, much less address or rectify. Moreover, devastating and nearly unparalleled natural disasters in Southeast Asia and Pakistan revealed just how deep the divide is between wealth and poverty on the global scale. Human trafficking and other forms of exploitation, environmental degradation, border disputes and enduring conflicts around racial, ethnic, and national identities continue, seemingly unabated, around the world. What does this mean in an age we have come to call 'globalized,' in which the flow of information, labor, goods, and bodies takes place with unprecedented speed and in ever-shifting patterns? And in the context of women's, gender, and queer studies, what does it mean for women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender persons, and anyone else who stands outside or astride the boundaries of conventional gender/sexual norms? Furthermore, are we, as scholars and/or activists, prepared for our advancing future? In what ways are we prepared or, perhaps more importantly, unprepared? And ultimately, where do we go from here?