- Queering Anarchism: Addressing and Undressing Power and Desire ed. by C. B. Daring et al.
Queering Anarchism, published by the anarchist publishing house AK Press, offers readers a valuable introduction to the intersections and overlaps between queer theory and practice, on the one hand, and anarchist philosophy and practice, on the other. Both “queer” and “anarchism” are contested and slippery terms that are often maligned and misunderstood. Rather than providing solid, stable definitions of either term, the editors of and contributors to Queering Anarchism explore the fruitfully ambiguous terrain of queer anarchist theory and practice; therefore, Queering Anarchism includes essays from a wide variety of activists, authors, and artists. Contributors cover an array of topics, and their methodologies, definitions, and political aims differ significantly. However, all of the contributors—and certainly the editors—appreciate and recognize the value of a queer(ed) anarchism. As the contributors to this collection demonstrate, “queer” (as noun, adjective, and verb) creates space for radical relationships. The essays in Queering Anarchism posit anarchy as a creative and productive space where we can create new, radically nonhierarchical relationships. Queer and anarchist activists are engaged in the work of creating new ways of being with one another in the world, and a queer anarchist approach to sexuality, relationships, and activism contains myriad possibilities for how that world might look.
The essays in Queering Anarchism move among political theory, sexuality, history, and activism—often in the same essay—thereby queering disciplinary distinctions and refusing to privilege certain narrative or intellectual frameworks. Although Queering Anarchism obviously coalesces around queerness and anarchism, the topics taken up by individual contributors range from sexual practice to social movement organizing, and cover almost every topic that is potentially relevant to queer(ed) anarchism. The text’s thesis rests on the premise that the overlap between queer and anarchism is a vital and productive area that merits [End Page 159] further exploration. This overlap enables Queering Anarchism to serve as an introduction to queer theory and practice for anarchists, and an introduction to anarchist theory and practice for queers (although the two are not mutually exclusive). Individual essays offer valuable insights into how we might productively queer anarchism as a means to social and individual liberation.
In terms of methodology, the essays in Queering Anarchism are wonderfully diverse, ranging from personal narrative to political treatise. Abbey Volcano’s exceptional essay discusses the hierarchies of relationships that sometimes emerge in queer communities whereby folks feel pressure to embody certain kinds of queerness—polyamory, public sex, and promiscuity. As Volcano explains, anarchism offers a solution to this by reminding us of the “radical implications” of “creating a politics that refuses the hierarchical arrangement of people because of their sexual and/or gender practices” (35). Likewise, in “queering heterosexuality,” Sandra Jeppesen suggests that using anarchist principles to queer heterosexuality is key to liberating sexuality and gender through challenges to dominant structures and orders. Jeppesen’s essay takes “queer” even further by queering language—avoiding capitalization and “proper” grammar and sentence structure in an effort to undermine heteropatriarchal and phallogocentric language systems.
Whereas Volcano and Jeppesen draw clearly from their own experiences, other essays in Queering Anarchism take a more theoretical and historical approach, and make visible instances where queer and anarchist theories already inform one another. For example, Jerimarie Liesegang’s “Tyranny of the State and Trans Liberation” locates the contemporary trans liberation movement within a larger narrative of gender and sex radicals’ participation in anarchist movements. As Liesegang explains, “the core of the trans existence and persona is radical and anarchistic, if not insurrectionary, in its embodiment” (88). Liesegang argues that trans liberation will only come through dismantling the neoliberal state, and therefore, trans liberation and anarchism are inextricably linked. Likewise, Stephanie Grohman offers a queer critique of capitalism to show what “queer politics can mean on the level of concrete economic practice” (139). In this essay, Grohman outlines queer and feminist critiques of capitalism, arguing “the heterosexual binary is built into...