Winner of the 2020 Ruth Benedict Prize presented by the Association for Queer Anthropology
Theoretically wide-ranging and deeply personal and poetic, Queer Freedom: Black Sovereignty is based on more than three years of fieldwork in the Dominican Republic. Ana-Maurine Lara draws on her engagement in traditional ceremonies, observations of national Catholic celebrations, and interviews with activists from peasant, feminist, and LGBT communities to reframe contemporary conversations about queerness and blackness. The result is a rich ethnography of the ways criollo spiritual practices challenge gender and racial binaries and manifest what Lara characterizes as a shared desire for decolonization.
Queer Freedom: Black Sovereignty is also a ceremonial ofrenda, or offering, in its own right. At its heart is a fundamental question: How can we enable “queer: black” life in all its forms, and what would it mean to be “free: sovereign” in the twenty-first century? Calling on the reader to join her in exploring possible answers, Lara maintains that the analogy between these terms–queerness and blackness, freedom and sovereignty–is necessarily incomplete and unresolved, to be determined only by ongoing processes of embodied, relational knowledge production. Queer Freedom: Black Sovereignty thus follows figures such as Sylvia Wynter, María Lugones, M. Jacqui Alexander, Édouard Glissant, Mark Rifkin, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Audre Lorde in working to theorize a potential roadmap to decolonization.