Joseph, Vaid Awarded Rockefeller Fellowships

Miranda Joseph and Urvashi Vaid have been named CLAGS Rockefeller Residency Fellows in the Humanities for the 1997-98 academic year. Their appointments are the first in a three-year program on Citizenship and Sexualities: Transcultural Constructions funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. The program’s focus for the upcoming academic year will be on transcultural constructions of citizenship and sexuality as manifested in organizations and institutions. Citizenship is usually thought of as a matter of legal record, not a fluctuating and indeterminate state. Yet the facts of legal citizenship do not necessarily correspond to the different narratives of cultural and political citizenship that many “citizens” of the United States have been told. The experiences of lesbians and gay men, for example, are inflected in radically different ways by such factors as race, class, ethnicity, gender, nationality as well as by regional, political, occupational, and other affiliations. CLAGS’s Rockefeller Residency Fellowships in the Humanities are the largest research grants awarded in the United States to scholars and activists working explicitly in the field of gay and lesbian studies. The grant marks the second time in CLAGS’s history that it has been chosen as a site for this award. This year’s winners will use their residencies to develop projects in community- based activism. Urvashi Vaid, one of the gay and lesbian community’s leading public intellectuals, heads the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, a national think tank on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues. Her project, “Citizenship, Constituency, and Statewide Institutions: A New Model for Increasing Participation ir’\• Queer Organizations,” will work toward increasing the awareness and participation of citizens in statewide gay and lesbian organizations through a series of monographs, strategic meetings, and creative organizing efforts with the newly formed national federation of statewide gay and lesbian organizations. The project grows out of the analysis outlined by Vaid in Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation (Anchor Books, 1995). In “Performing Community: Discourses of Community in Late Twentieth-Century United States,” Miranda joseph will address the contemporary constructions of gay men and lesbians as a community and as a social movement. The project draws on a variety of methodologies as well as examples ranging from San Francisco’s Theatre Rhinoceros to the controversies surrounding the National Endowment for the Arts. It brings a new understanding to the study of communal and social bonding, suggesting that the complexities of American political identities and communities are best understood in relation to their material production and performance. Joseph is Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and Coordinator of the Committee on Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Studies at the University of Arizona.