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Educators Queering Academia

Critical Memoirs


Edited By sj Miller and Nelson M. Rodriguez

The memoirs in this collection represent a cross-section of critical reflections by a queerly diverse set of individuals on their experiences inhabiting a variety of spaces within the field of education. In their stories, the authors share how they queered and are continuing to queer the academy in relation to questions of teaching, research, policy, and/or administration. Their memoirs speak across generations of queer educators and scholars; collectively their work highlights an array of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. As snapshots in time, the memoirs can be taken up as archive and studied in order to gain perspective on the issues facing queers in the academy across various intersections of identities related to ethnicity, culture, language, (a)gender, (a)sexuality, (dis)ability, socio-economic status, religion, age, veteran status, health status, and more. By way of the memoirs in this volume, a richer body of queer knowledge is offered that can be pulled from and infused into the academic and personal contexts of the work of educators queering academia.
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Chapter Sixteen: Queering South Mississippi: Simple and Seemingly Impossible Work


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Queering South Mississippi: Simple and Seemingly Impossible Work




Our purpose in writing this is to recount and analyze the push for queer-positive policy at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) over the past several years, understanding the spaces that opened for such work, and why such spaces rapidly open and close on the USM campus. We cannot begin to tell the story of our experience working for queer-positive programming and spaces, and the challenges we have encountered in that work, without first contextualizing that work within the institution of the University of Southern Mississippi, the system in which it exists, and the state of Mississippi. The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, hovers near the 15,000 mark in enrollment and has campuses in Hattiesburg and Long Beach, plus some small research sites along the Gulf Coast. It, like many institutions of higher education in Mississippi, has constant budget shortfalls, and a cycle of enrollment/financial emergencies, while struggling to find consistent quality of students and enrollment numbers. It exists in a system that places it alongside the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and Mississippi State University for budgeting and evaluation purposes, an unfortunate reality in many years.

Forces against change and progress can be particularly salient in the Deep South, where calls to tradition, appeals to faith, and staunch opposition...

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