Resisting the Cynical Turn: Projections of a Desirably Queer Future

While the current political moment certainly invites a sense of defeatism among those of us in arts, humanities, and cultural studies—and makes a retreat into cynicism and political apathy an attractive option—the times call for a renewed sense of commitment and a much more assertive response. We on the cultural left—especially in higher education—have a base level responsibility to lead the way out of our climate of reactionary nationalism and anti-intellectualism. We are the ones best able to imagine a different future and articulate its desirability. Practitioners in the arts, humanities, and cultural studies are best positioned to provide the utopic thinking that has the power to motivate. In returning to some of the core tenets of activist-based queer theory, and melding those with the tentative and probing dialogics offered by the philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, we have tools to rally those who feel oppressed and defeated by current political rhetoric. A calculated, cautious, but deliberately vocal optimism serves the interests of our students, our profession, and our fellow citizens. The cultural right asks us to withdraw, to be silent, to give up hope—our best response is to do the opposite. By imagining and articulating a more egalitarian, cosmopolitan, and desirably queer future, we can direct attention to the true cynics—those who believe that top-down power will be accepted without question and that sexism/racism/homophobia can be normalized in order to divide, scare, and manipulate the masses. We—artists, writers, philosophers, and theorists—have the creativity and mental nimbleness to challenge and change the world, if we accept our responsibility as educators and re-commit ourselves to doing so.

Read presenter biographies.

Posted by IAFOR