Newton, Puar Awarded Rockefeller Residency Fellowships

CLAGS is very pleased to announce that Esther Newton and Jasbir Puar have been named Rockefeller Residency Fellows in the Humanities for the 1999-2000 academic year. Their appointments are part of the final cycle in a three-year program, Citizenship and Sexualities: Transcultural Constructions, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. The upcoming year will specifically focus on explorations of citizenship and sexualities as enacted and represented on national levels. The winners were selected by an independent jury appointed by the CLAGS Board. The concept of citizenship is often used to suggest a generic person with a legal claim to an equal share of material, political, and moral resources. Yet lesbian and gay identity brings special dimensions to the issues of citizenship. The meanings of ” lesbian” and “gay,” for example, are inflected in radically different ways, because they are rooted in diverse experiences. The Rockefeller Fellowship program at CLAGS fosters exploration of the relationship between citizenship and sexuality within a broad spectrum of social settings that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people inhabit. Newton, a professor of anthropology at SUNY Purchase, will devote her residency to working on a book project entitled My Butch Career: A Queer Life in Anthropology. Framed by anthropological and historical perspectives, her memoir will explore the complex difficulties she faced in becoming a professional anthropologist, and hence a full citizen, because of her gender and sexual orientation, which were different from the dominant informal and state supported norms. Newton will relate her odd historical circumstances as a half-WASP child growing up in Jewish left wing New York, a closeted lesbian in an elite graduate school, and a masculine professional woman caught up in the downwardly mobile sisterhood of second wave feminism. Though she had mastered the tools of cultural anthropology through such idols and teachers as Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, David Schneider, and Clifford Geertz, Newton maintains that it was not until becoming one of a network of gay and lesbian intellectuals that together they created the field of gay and lesbian studies. Recently granted a Ph.D. from University of California-Berkeley, Jasbir Puar will pursue Queer Tourism: Circuits of Sexual Citizenship. Drawing upon implications of a burgeoning gay and lesbian tourist industry, her project will bring together the largely sociological and political economy literatures of tourism with queer theory. She is especially interested in locating the convergences of human rights discourses on queer liberation, multinational capital, and agendas, both cultural and legislative, of nationalism and citizenship. Puar points out that queer tourist projects have a long involvement with human rights and citizenship struggles, from the boycotting of Colorado’s ski industry in the early 1990s because of its anti -gay initiatives, to the recent call to boycott United Airlines for its refusal to provide domestic partnership benefits to employees. She will examine queer tourist practices through an analysis of corporate industry trends, evaluations of the effects of queer tourism on national and international legislative policy, and interviews with both producers and consumers of queer tourism. Sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, the awards represent major support for advanced scholarly research in lesbian and gay studies. The Residency Fellowships enable scholars and activists interested in the lgbt experience to pursue relevant research projects while participating in the ongoing activities of CLAGS. Fellows receive $30,000 plus relocation expenses for their year-long residency.