From Essence to Queery—Puzzling Over the Persistence of Identity
Keywords:identity, queer studies, religious studies, theory, method
The following conversation between K. Merinda Simmons (University of Alabama) and Jeremy Posadas (Austin College) is an outgrowth of a roundtable on class, identity, and religion presented as part of the North American Association for the Study of Religion (NAASR) meeting in November 2020. That discussion reflected participants’ respective approaches and research emphases, of course, but we all in one way or another focused our comments on the role of intersectionality (i.e., the approach to identity that sees social categories and systems of discrimination as structurally interconnected) within the academic study of religion. Using that theme as a starting point, the back-and-forth that follows brings our respective work in gender studies and queer theory into the mix. While exchanging the messages that became this text, we purposefully took an approach of “thinking out loud” and experimenting with ideas in formative stages. This embrace of what remains unsettled—in fact, the process of unsettling what scholars often take to be terra firma—is reflected in our tone and in our relative disinterest in structural linearity. We hope instead that this conversation might be read as exactly that: a conversation, necessarily partial and productively unfinished.
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