2021 Outstanding Academic Titles: LGBTQ Studies

Five selections from the Choice Reviews 2021 Outstanding Academic Titles list. This week to honor Pride Month, we highlight Choice 2021 Outstanding Academic Titles about LGBTQ Studies.

1. Queer freedom: Black sovereignty
Lara, Ana-Mauríne. SUNY Press, 2020

This creative study seeks to decolonize the body. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork from the Dominican Republic, it confronts racial constructs and the constraints of sexual expression in the Caribbean. Lara (Univ. of Oregon) structures the text as an Afro-Caribbean spiritual celebration of self-emancipation that engages with anthropological literature and personal experiences. The book is itself a sacred offering to the ancestral, spiritual, and physical beings that have contested the oppressive legacies of colonialism, racism, and homophobia. The author advocates for systemic change that will end the anguish of centuries of colonial and imperial doctrine that have imprisoned the imaginations and desires of Caribbean peoples. It is a phenomenological study written in poetic, provocative, powerful prose. The author critiques Christianity and capitalism to challenge the colonial construct of the state. The hierarchical structures created by the state generate social inequities and mental confines that prohibit the true expression of queer freedom and Black sovereignty. Afro-Caribbean spirituality offers a roadmap to liberation. View on Amazon.

2. Others of my kind: transatlantic transgender histories
by Alex Bakker et al University of Calgary Press, 2020

The historical study of medical practices related to transgender individuals most often focuses on the history of the practices and the medical practitioners themselves; the experiences of transgender people and the relationships they have with the medical community are mostly left out. This new volume seeks to humanize the history of trans-related medicine. Focusing on the late 1800s through the 1960s, this study looks at the relationships that developed between trans people and their medical providers across the Atlantic Ocean. In the process, the authors trace the changing understanding of medical care over time while maintaining a focus on trans people themselves. Containing hundreds of photos, this work carefully blends academic discourse with archival material, adding the faces and bodies of real people to a conversation that has long ignored the people behind the history of medical care. View on Amazon

3. Beyond homophobia: centring LGBTQ experiences in the Anglophone Caribbean
ed. by Moji Anderson and Erin C. MacLeod University of the West Indies Press, 2020

This collection compiles and discusses academic research, artwork, and activism pertaining to LGBTQ experiences in the Anglophone Caribbean. The editors challenge the narrative of the region as irremediably homophobic and destructive for same sex–loving and gender non-conforming people. Foregrounding the voices and perspectives of LGBTQ Jamaicans, Trinbagonians, and other West Indians, a more nuanced image appears. As the chapters illustrate, homosexuality is not a recent Western import but has been a constant presence in the Caribbean since the 18th century aboard pirate ships; in Christian spiritual communities; in poetry, novels, and photography; and even in Kingston’s modern dance halls. Despite its title, the book explains the origins of homophobia and its damaging effects on contemporary LGBTQ individuals: “buggery” laws and a puritanical version of Christianity were imposed on these societies, which were seen as morally corrupt by their European colonial rulers. Although seldom enforced, these laws continue to exist, as does public condemnation of non-heterosexual individuals by media outlets and religious institutions. View on Amazon

4. Sexuality in emerging adulthood
ed. by Elizabeth M. Morgan and Manfred H. M. van Dulmen Oxford, 2021

The editors frame the sexual well-being of emerging adults (EAs) ages 20–30—who bridge adolescence and adulthood in Western and other cultures—within a developmental perspective. Jeffrey Arnett (Clark Univ.) famously defined the term emerging adult in 2000. Depending on current age, a reader might have been an adult at 21 yet unaware of her or his emerging status. But how do EAs negotiate sexual interactions and adopt patterns of, e.g., sexual risk, drug use, or other behaviors? Sixty-six contributing authors examine conceptual foundations, contexts, and socializing agents (peers, media, religion) of sexual development and factors (early adversity, sexual health) that influence flourishing or floundering in emerging adulthood. Chapters highlight research methods and recommendations, noting limitations (the plethora of college data versus paucity of data on non-college populations and ethnic or sexual minorities) and how to overcome them (four “method tutorials” complete part 1). Some authors cite theory without details on methodology, and many references are older, yet “brief reports” following certain chapters include methodologies so that findings are contextualized. View on Amazon.

5. Transformations in queer, trans, and intersex health and aging
by Alexandra C.H. Nowakowski, J.E. Sumerau, and Nik M. Lampe Lexington Books, 2020

Authors Nowakowski (Florida State Univ.), Sumerau (Univ. of Tampa), and Lampe (Univ. of South Carolina) use autoethnography to illuminate the lived experience, health, and aging of queer, trans, and intersex individuals by detailing their challenges to seeking health care and navigating life and love. One chapter asks what sexuality means for one with cystic fibrosis (CF) and focuses on navigating safe sex and health care. Challenges include the stigma of chronic illness, the myth that aging involves losing sexuality, and the desexualization of disability. That chapter details how society may view someone with CF as “gross” and as hypervigilant to prevent genital and urinary infections during sex. A broader exploration of sexuality across life for previously desexualized groups is also needed. The second author highlights the impact of socioeconomic status and race on health care and the need for new models of health in the context of chronic illness, sexuality, or injury. She explores the life transformations of being assigned male at birth and using off-market female hormones, and painfully recalls being punished for referring to herself as female. The third author describes how learning of their intersex traits in young adulthood ushered the exploration of non-binary life. View on Amazon.

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