Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3389-0578

Year of Publication

2021

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department/School/Program

Anthropology

First Advisor

Dr. Kristin V. Monroe

Abstract

This dissertation draws on fieldwork with Black LGBTQ identifying individuals and communities in Birmingham, Alabama conducted from 2015-2019 as part of a project that reimagines theories of care. Informed by scholars of Black and feminist studies, I conceive of forms of care as negotiations of survival and tactics of thriving that are worked out in everyday practices and discourses among LGBTQ African Americans. I show how histories of racial inequality and centuries of resistance, surviving, and thriving among communities of African descent intersect with LGBTQ politics, space, and identity to create strategies and places of individual and community care. My analysis examines positionalities and inequalities of power and is political in that it understands activism as a form of “caregiving,” and “caring with” as recognitions of social and structural inequities and works to remedy them. In these ways, this dissertation provides a moving image not only of state, biomedical, and social structures and discourses shaping the lives of LGBTQ African Americans but also of Black LGBTQ practices and understandings of self-determination, resistance, community, and thriving.

Drawing from five aspects of care as theorized by educational philosopher Berenice Fisher and political scientist Joan Tronto, marginalizations and precarities of Black LGBTQ lives are 1) “cared about” in that an active awareness of concerns across multiple sites and identities is understood by Black LGBTQ individuals and communities in Birmingham to be part of Black LGBTQ identity. Through conferences, LGBTQ events, social and spiritual communities, kinship, and political organizing, Black LGBTQ issues in Birmingham are 2) “cared for” in that individuals and communities take on the responsibilities of seeing that needs are addressed. 3) “Caregiving” is engaged in across multiple and diverse sites such as HIV prevention, LGBTQ space, family, care for children, religious and spiritual care. 4) “Care receiving,” can be seen in mutual emotional, physical, and spiritual as well as in self-care engaged in by Black LGBTQ individuals and Black social and political activists in Birmingham. 5) “Caring with,” Fisher and Tronto’s additional aspect of care in which “a group of people (from a family to a state) can rely upon an ongoing cycle of care to continue to meet their caring needs,” reflects care visible in recently formed organizations like Bham Black Pride. While Black and Black LGBTQ communities have robust histories of self-determination and self-saving, committed practices of allyship, advocacy, and activism among non-Black people would help to provide dependable networks and structures of ongoing care proposed by Joan Tronto and Berenice Fisher. Imagined in these ways, care becomes an important framework for understanding intersections of Black LGBTQ surviving and thriving in Birmingham, Alabama.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2021.307

Funding Information

Anthropology Department, University of Kentucky, Graduate Student Conference Travel Award 2018

Anthropology Department, University of Kentucky, Susan Abbott-Jamieson Pre-Dissertation Research Fund Award 2014

Anthropology Department, University of Kentucky, Kentucky Opportunity Fund Fellowship for Graduate Studies 2021-2013

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