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Queer Praxis

Questions for LGBTQ Worldmaking

Edited By Dustin Bradley Goltz and Jason Zingsheim

Amidst rapid advances of mainstream gay and lesbian platforms, questions of essential sexual identities, queered rituals of family, queered notions of intimacy, queer considerations of time, and the possibility and value of queered systems of relation are largely absent. Resisting the public face of a normative and homogenous gay and lesbian community, and embracing a broadened conception of queerness, this book brings together 29 writers – a diverse community of scholars, lovers, and activists – to explore queer theory and embodied experiences within interpersonal relations and society at large. Enacting a critical intervention into the queer theoretical landscape, the book offers an alternative engagement where contributors centralize lived experience. Theoretical engagements are generated in relation and in dialogue with one another exploring collectivity, multiple points of entrance, and the living nature of critical theory. Readers gain familiarity with key concepts in queer thought, but also observe how these ideas can be navigated and negotiated in the social world. Queer Praxis serves as a model for queer relationality, enlisting transnational feminist, critical communication, and performance studies approaches to build dialogue across and through differing subjectivities.
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9. The Practice of Normativities in Everyday Life

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GUST A. YEP AND RYAN LESCURE

On the one hand, norms seem to signal the regulatory or normalizing function of power, but from another perspective, norms are precisely what [bind] individuals together, forming the basis of their ethical and political claims.

—Butler (2004, p. 219)

Through the process of governing social intelligibility, on the one hand, norms allow for certain types of practices and actions to become recognizable in the social domain (e.g., specific gendered styles of dress that allow social actors to be recognized as members of a particular gender). To maintain intelligibility, the range of practices and actions are regulated and restricted for the social actor (e.g., to be recognized as a woman in a social setting, a person needs to conform to certain gendered styles of presentation). On the other hand, norms create and sustain the possibility of community through a common understanding and language for social actors (e.g., norms that demarcate and maintain certain gender communities). Such commonalities can also become the mechanism for making ethical and political claims (e.g., people organizing to eradicate violence against women). In short, norms are both necessary for people to function in society and (potentially) violent for such individuals in symbolic and material ways.

As Butler (2004) reminds us, the persistence of norms occurs “to the extent that [they are] acted out in social practice and reidealized and reinstituted in and through the daily social rituals of bodily life...

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