In this presentation, Christopher Ewing argues that racism was constitutive of queer, German politics in the aftermath of gay liberation. At the same time, importance of racism to queer politics cannot—and should not—be understood without also attending to antiracism. Racist and antiracist politics were closely connected, as activists worked across groups and across borders to develop sometimes competing visions of queer politics. Out of these connections, which often exceeded the bounds of the Federal Republic, arose new forms of queer fascism as well as their multiple, anti-racist contestations. Both unsettled the appeals to national belonging, or the “homonationalism,” on which many white queer activists based their claims. To chart the entanglement of racist and antiracist political trajectories, this presentation will delve into three topics – transnational networks of gay travel in the 1970s, Black and antiracist feminist activism in the 1980s and 1990s, and white queer investments in right-wing politics in the 2000s and 2010s. In so doing, it will underscore a wider intervention into queer history, arguing that US-derived narratives of success LGBTQ+ rights and the counternarrative of the homonationalist betrayal of queer liberation fail to account for the full complexity of queer politics. Instead, the story of the making of homonationalism is also the story of its unmaking.
Christopher Ewing is an assistant professor at Purdue University. He specializes in postwar German queer history, taking a transnational approach that examines the impacts of postcolonialism, migration, and activism on German politics. In addition to his book, The Color of Desire, to be published with Cornell University Press in 2023, his work has also appeared The Journal of the History of Sexuality, Sexualities, Sexuality & Culture, and The Bulletin of the German Historical Institute. He is also developing new research projects on transnational conceptualizations of “hate criminality” in the 1980s and 1990s. He received his PhD from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2018.
Please note that the School of History seminars will run in-person only this semester.