53.1, Spring/Summer 2015
Cheryl Higashida, Aaron Lecklinder, and Gary Holcomb, Editors
Sex is everywhere – even on the left. Then why have many of us been so heedless of its presence there, or so reluctant to acknowledge it? Even in scholarship where the left is at its most sexual, and sex is at its most left, there are unexplored avenues, missed encounters. Queer critiques of capitalism frequently eschew or marginalize figures, events, and histories that are central to left scholarship, and sexuality has an uneven presence in left studies, which has tenaciously explored the intersections of race, gender, and class. Yet separately, and to a much lesser extent together, both research on radicalism and scholarship on sexuality have been key to theorizing and historicizing politics and identity, gender and sex, culture and the political economy, racial formations and class contradictions.
This issue of ELN invites discussion across a range of disciplines, eras, and geographies on the convergences and divergences between studies of the left and of sexuality. In thinking through and perhaps within the aporia of left sex and the sexual left, what new ways of sensing, relating to, and revolutionizing our world(s) might arise? Bringing the left to bear on sexuality, we intend to build on exciting developments of queer Marxism and political-economic analysis. In the spirit of such work, we wish to explore the interpenetrations of sexuality, race, and capitalism, and to rethink concepts of value, production, reproduction, reification, and totality. However, we also invite contributors to consider how left figures and movements worldwide since the inception of left politics have grappled with sexuality as a site of struggle, intervention, and re-imagining. What histories of sexuality, what forms of queer critique emerge from the left? How might queer and sexuality studies be enriched through plumbing leftist culture, politics, and history? Bringing sexuality to bear on radicalism, we are indebted to and encourage left scholarship’s engagement with LGBT histories. But we also wonder how left studies can avail itself more productively and promiscuously of sexuality and queer studies. How might we review radical writing through queer reworkings of Marxism or through theorizations of identity, difference, pleasure, and liberation within scholarship on sexuality? How do internationalist, anticolonial, and anti-imperialist movements traverse sexual revolutions and crises?