The NWSA Lesbian Caucus was founded in a burst of positive energy which nurtured and shaped the organization. Structural tensions between regions, the newsletter, and caucus constituencies provided a ground upon which discourses of homophobia and racism became manifest in the early years of the National Women's Studies Association (NWSA). Women in the Third World Women's Caucus and the Lesbian Caucus had difficulty with the association and with working together. Questions of representation, giving voice, and divisiveness all needed to be dealt with at the same time as building a strong caucus presence. As advocates, the Lesbian Caucus worked to represent lesbians and confront homophobia within the association, as well as to make the concerns and lives of lesbians more visible in Women's Studies, the academy, and the public sphere, with mixed success. Our experience in the early years points to the ways that listening space is shaped discursively, and the ways discourses, embodied in the gut, shape perceptions of reality. The essay explores how caucus constituencies faced contradictions of identity politics before there was a language for them.


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pp. 29-50
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