DCQS 2017 “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens,” Twenty Years Later: A Celebration of the Scholarship of Cathy Cohen

Tenth Annual DC Queer Studies Symposium

Friday, April 21, 2017
Ulrich Recital Hall (1121), Tawes Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD

Please register at ter.ps/DCQS17

At the close of the 20th century, Cathy Cohen insisted that “…a truly radical or transformative politics has not resulted from queer activism.” She instead offered ideas about coalitions organized in the name of the “nonnormative” and “marginal” and based in an intersectional analysis of power that demanded a move beyond an assimilative LGBT agenda. Twenty years after the publication of Cohen’s “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” the relevance of these words echo loudly in our current political era. Cohen’s call became the basis for important research and political work in regards to race, sexuality, and class. In celebration of that landmark essay, and her overall breadth of scholarship and activism, this symposium invites Cohen and a wide range of other scholars and activists to revisit the influence of her vision and to explore the question: What does transformative political activism look like in the 21st century?

Cathy J. Cohen is the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science and former chair of the department. She has served as the Deputy Provost for Graduate Education and is the former Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. Cohen is the author of two books: Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics (Oxford University Press 2010) and The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics (University of Chicago Press 1999) and co-editor with Kathleen Jones and Joan Tronto of Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader (NYU, 1997). Her work has been published in numerous journals and edited volumes including the American Political Science Review, GLQ, NOMOS, and Social Text. Cohen is principal investigator of two major projects: The Black Youth Project and the Mobilization, Change and Political and Civic Engagement Project. Her general field of specialization is American politics, although her research interests include African-American politics, women and politics, lesbian and gay politics, and social movements.


All panels will be in Ulrich Recital Hall (1121), Tawes Hall

***Seating is limited and will be first-come, first-serve.***

8:30 – 9:00am – Light Breakfast Fare (First Floor Lobby, Tawes Hall)

9:00 – 9:15am – Welcome & Opening Remarks

9:15 – 10:45am – PANEL 1: The Politics of Community Health

  • Chandra Ford, Community Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Darius Bost, Sexuality Studies, San Francisco State University
  • Nic John Ramos, American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California
  • Kenyon Farrow, Treatment Action Group
  • Christina Hanhardt (Moderator), American Studies, University of Maryland

11:00am – 12:30pm – PANEL 2: Black Freedom Movements

  • Dayo Gore, Ethnic Studies and Critical Gender Studies, University of California, San Diego
  • Sarah Haley, Gender Studies and African American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Lester Spence, Political Science, John Hopkins University
  • Jonathan Lykes, Black Youth Project 100, DC
  • Elsa Barkley Brown (Moderator), History and Women’s Studies, University of Maryland

12:30 – 2:00pm – Lunch on your own

2:00 – 3:30pm – PANEL 3: Black Sexualities

  • C. Riley Snorton, Africana Studies and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, Cornell University
  • LaMonda Horton-Stallings, Women’s Studies, University of Maryland
  • Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman, English, African and Afro-American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Brandeis University
  • Marlon Bailey, Women and Gender Studies, Arizona State University
  • Michelle Rowley (Moderator), Women’s Studies, University of Maryland

4:00 – 5:30pm – KEYNOTE

Cathy Cohen, Political Science, University of Chicago

5:45 – 6:45pm – Reception (Second Floor Lobby, Tawes Hall)



University of Maryland

Departments of American Studies, English, Government and Politics, and Women’s Studies / College of Arts and Humanities /  Office of Diversity & Inclusion / Office of Undergraduate Studies / Asian American Studies Program / Center for American Politics & Citizenship / Center for Literary and Comparative Studies / Center for Race, Gender, and Ethnicity / LGBT Equity Center / Nathan and Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies / Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy

Georgetown University

Department of African American Studies / Department of English


Christina Hanhardt (American Studies, University of Maryland) and LaMonda Horton-Stallings (Women’s Studies, University of Maryland)


Cathy J. Cohen
In addition to her academic work, Cohen has always been politically active. She was a founding board member and former co-chair of the board of the Audre Lorde Project in NY. She was also on the board of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press as well as the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) at CUNY. Cohen was a founding member of Black AIDS Mobilization (BAM!) and was one of the core organizers of two international conferences “Black Nations / Queer Nations?” and “Race, Sex, Power.” Cohen has also served as an active member in numerous organizations such as the Black Radical Congress, African American Women in Defense of Ourselves, and Ella’s Daughters.

Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman is an Associate Professor of English, African and Afro-American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University. She publishes and lectures widely on topics ranging from the relation of sexuality and social order in New World slavery to the impacts of Civil Rights retrenchment on black familial formation and function in the current, putatively “post-racial,” moment. A two-time winner of the Darwin T. Turner Award for Best Essay of the Year in African American Review, Abdur-Rahman has been awarded fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the Mellon Foundation, the W.E.B Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, and the JFK Institute at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her first book, Against the Closet: Black Political Longing and the Erotics of Race (Duke University Press, 2012) analyzes African American literary depictions of transgressive sexualities in order to illuminate the ways in which race, politics, and sexuality intersect in the social/racial ordering of United States culture and in the making of African American literature. Her second book, provisionally titled, Millennial Style: The Politics of Experiment in Contemporary African Diasporic Culture, engages the work of such cultural producers as Sapphire, Marci Blackman, Kara Walker, Octavia Butler, and Wangechi Mutu to investigate the ways in which desire both shapes and resists representation.

Marlon M. Bailey is an Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies at in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. Bailey’s book, Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit, a performance ethnography of Ballroom culture (University of Michigan Press, 2013), was awarded the Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize by the GL/Q Caucus of the Modern Language Association. Some of the journals in which Bailey’s work has been published include, SignsFeminist Studies; SoulsGender, Place, and Culture; The Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services; and AIDS and Patient Care. His most recent essay, “Black Gay (Raw) Sex,” appears in the collection, No Tea, No Shade: New Writings on Black Queer Studies, edited by E. Patrick Johnson (Duke University Press, 2016). Bailey is also a performance artist. He recently presented his solo-performance, “Black Gay Sex, Love, and Life in the Age of AIDS,” at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

Darius Bost is an Assistant Professor of Sexuality Studies and Assistant Director of the Center for Research and Education on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University. His research focuses in the areas of African Diasporic literatures and cultures, LGBT and queer studies, gender and sexuality studies, trauma studies, urban studies, and critical HIV/AIDS studies. His current book project, tentatively titled, Evidence of Being: The Black Gay Cultural Renaissance and the Politics of Violence (under contract, The University of Chicago Press), is an interdisciplinary study of black gay cultural movements in Washington, D.C., and New York City during the early era of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. His research has been supported by the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Social Sciences at Duke University, the Presidential Award and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at San Francisco State University, the Penn Predoctoral Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Martin Duberman Visiting Scholars Program at the New York Public Library.

Kenyon Farrow is the U.S. & Global Health Policy Director for Treatment Action Group, and an award-winning writer and activist. Whether serving on a board, staff member, or rank-and-file organizer, Farrow has spent the last 15 years working in social movements on campaigns and projects large and small, community-based, national and global in scope. Well known for his racial and economic justice work within LGBTQ organizing, he is the former Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice. His work in HIV/AIDS has also been well documented. Treatment Action Group is an independent AIDS research and policy think tank fighting for better treatment, a vaccine, and a cure for AIDS, where he has also expanded his work to include tuberculosis (TB) policy and advocacy.

Chandra L. Ford is an Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences in the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles. She earned her doctorate in Health Behavior from the Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina. Prior to joining UCLA, she completed postdoctoral training in Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina and in Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, where she was a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Kellogg Health Scholar. She is a former president of the Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues. In addition to her academic activities, she was involved with the Durham-Chapel Hill Local Organizing Committee of the Black Radical Congress and is currently involved with the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders. The overarching aims of Dr. Ford’s research are to: (1) explain specific mechanisms by which societal inequalities (especially racism) contribute to health inequities and limit access to public health services and care among socially marginalized populations; and, (2) to enhance the conceptual and methodological tools used to produce knowledge about the links between the societal inequalities and health disparities. Particular areas of expertise include HIV/AIDS prevention and disparities; Public Health Critical Race Praxis; access to healthcare; and, health disparities affecting racial/ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, and, older adults. Her work has been published in the American Journal of Public Health, the Annals of Epidemiology, Ethnicity & Disease, JAIDS, Social Science & Medicine, the Wisconsin Law Review, and other refereed journals. She has received a number of honors. In 2016, she was appointed co-chair of the Committee on Science of the American Public Health Association’s newly formed Anti-Racism Collaborative, and was named to the National Academy of Medicine Committee on Community-based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States.

Dayo F. Gore is an Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies and Critical Gender Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She is also founder and co-convener of the Black Studies Project@UCSD and a member of the Consortium for Black Studies in California multi-campus research grant funded by the UC’s Office of the President. Gore earned a Ph.D. in History from New York University and has previously taught at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is one of a new generation of young scholars active in preserving and exploring the infrequently chronicled history of 20th-century black women’s radicalism, in the U.S. and beyond. She is the author of Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War (New York University Press, 2011), co-editor with Jeanne Theoharis and Komozi Woodard of Want to Start a Revolution?: Radical Women in the Black Freedom Struggle (New York University Press, 2009) and her research has been supported by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. Gore is currently at work on a book length study of African American women’s transnational travels and activism in the long twentieth century to be published by Princeton University Press.

Sarah Haley is an Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She received the 2016 Sara A. Whaley Prize from the National Women’s Studies Association for her book No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity (University of North Carolina Press, 2016). Drawing upon black feminist criticism and a diverse array of archival materials, No Mercy Here illuminates black women’s experiences of imprisonment in the South to uncover how gendered regimes of incarceration were crucial to the making of Jim Crow modernity. No Mercy Here examines the brutalization of imprisoned women in local, county, and state convict labor systems, while also situating them within the black radical tradition by illuminating practices of resistance, refusal, and sabotage that challenged ideologies of racial capitalism and patriarchy, offering alternative conceptions of social and political life and envisioning a world beyond prisons.

LaMonda Horton-Stallings is an Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland. She is a native of Durham, NC.  Her research and teaching interests converge at the intersections of literary studies, feminist theory, queer of color critique, sexuality studies, and cultural studies.  A true interdisciplinary scholar, much of her research entails delving into cultures and communities situated outside the boundaries of normativity and respectability, so as to produce new knowledge about race, sexuality, class, and gender. Her first book, Mutha is Half a Word!: Intersections of Folklore, Vernacular, Myth, and Queerness in Black Female Culture (2007), critically engages folklore and vernacular theory, black cultural studies, and queer theory to examine the representation of sexual desire in fiction, poetry, stand-up comedy, neo-soul, and hip-hop created by black women.  She is also co-editor and contributing author to Word Hustle: Critical Essays and Reflections on the Works of Donald Goines (2011), which offers a critical analysis of street literature and its most prolific author. Her second book, Funk the Erotic: Transaesthetics and Black Sexual Cultures (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2015), explores how black sexual cultures produce radical ideologies about labor, community, art, and sexuality and has received the 2016 Emily Toth Award for Best Single Work by One or More Authors in Women’s Studies from the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association; the 2016 Alan Bray Memorial Book Award from the GL/Q Caucus of the Modern Language Association; and was a Finalist in LGBT Studies of the 28th Annual Lambda Literary Awards.

Jonathan Lykes is a Black queer artist, activist and policy analyst. He currently works at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), addressing disproportionality and disparities that effect LGBTQ and gender non-conforming youth impacted by deep-end systems (child welfare, mental health, homelessness and criminal justice). He is the former artistic director of Performing Arts for Effective Civic Education (PAECE) Program at the University of Chicago, where he used interdisciplinary art and performance to help youth realize their roles as civically active members of the community who thrive toward the achievement of systemic change and social justice. Lykes’ interdisciplinary approach to art, activism and anti-oppression work, merges policy change, artistic expression and activism. Combining these forms of social transformation—and harnessing their synergy—he works to create awareness, promote personal healing, surmount institutional barriers and generate systemic change. Lykes is also a community organizer, currently serving as the co-chair of the DC Chapter of Black Youth Project 100, a movement of young adults using a black queer feminist lens to advocate for community and systemic change. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago, where he also received his master’s degree from the School for Social Service Administration.

Nic John Ramos is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. His work explores race, gender, and sexuality at the intersections of healthcare and urban policy in the 1960s and 1970s. His is currently completing his dissertation, Worthy of Care: Comprehensive Healthcare and King-Drew Medical Center, with the support of the Dornslife College Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Worthy of Care examines the history of an iconic public hospital built in Watts and its use of federal healthcare policy called “comprehensive healthcare,” which gave birth to three new medical disciplines in the 1960s & 70s: Community Medicine, Community Mental Health, and Emergency Medicine. Ramos explores how health systems built to augur greater health inclusion for poor citizens in this era actually created more complexities than solutions by the 1980s. His writing and research have been previously supported by the John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation, the LBJ Presidential Library, UCLA Darling Biomedical Library, and the Huntington Library. He has published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies and has served as the Managing Editor of American Quarterly.

C. Riley Snorton is an Assistant Professor in the Africana Studies and Research Center and Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Cornell University. His research and teaching expertise include cultural theory, queer and transgender theory and history, Africana studies, performance studies, and popular culture. He has received various awards, including a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Snorton’s first book, Nobody Is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), traces the emergence and circulation of the down low in news and popular culture, demonstrating how these portrayals reinforce troubling perceptions of black sexuality generally. He has published articles in The Black Scholar, the International Journal of Communication, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. Also, in 2014 Snorton was listed as one of “Ten Transgender People You Should Know” by BET.

Lester K. Spence is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University and is the Center for Emerging Media Scholar in Residence. He specializes in the study of black, racial, and urban politics in the wake of the neoliberal turn. An award winning scholar and teacher, Dr. Spence has written two books (Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politicsand Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics), over a dozen peer-reviewed articles, more than 50 articles and reviews for mass media publications, and has delivered lectures around the world on race, inequality, black politics and neoliberalism. Born and raised in Metropolitan Detroit, Dr. Spence received his BA and PhD from the University of Michigan. He is the proud father of five children.


The main University of Maryland College Park address is: 7965 Baltimore Ave College Park, MD 20740

All symposium events will be held in Ulrich Recital Hall (1121) Tawes Hall (building # 141 on the campus map). Tawes is located on the north end of campus next to Lot 1, the Benjamin Building, and the Art-Sociology Building. See a Google map of Tawes Hall and nearby parking lots here.

PARKINGFull visitor parking information can be found here

The most convenient visitor parking is located at Union Lane Garage – located between the Adele H. Stamp Student Union Center for Campus Life and Cole Field House. Current rates at this facility are $3.00 per hour, with a $15.00 per day maximum. After 4:00 p.m., visitors may park without a permit in the surface lot (Lot 1) by Tawes Hall.

Another option is the Stadium Drive Garage – Located adjacent to Byrd Stadium, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and the Riggs Alumni Center. Current rates at this facility are $3.00 per hour, with a $15.00 per day maximum.


For detailed directions to the University of Maryland campus, including by car and by rail, please visit http://www.cvs.umd.edu/visitors/maps.html


The Washington, DC area has an extensive bus and subway system (metro). The Metrobus and the Metrorail extend well into the College Park area.

You can visit the metro website or call (202) 637-7000 for ride information. You can use the metro trip planner to get directions, based on your start and end points and the time you wish to arrive.

The University of Maryland is located on the green line, College Park/UM metro stop. You can take the free Shuttle-UM, a taxi, or walk about 15 minutes to the campus.

**PLEASE NOTE: WMATA has recently announced that SafeTrack Surge #14 will include the complete CLOSURE of the College Park Metro Station from Saturday, April 15 through Saturday, April 29.

“Free shuttle buses will run between Greenbelt and Prince George’s Plaza with an intermediate stop at College Park. Green Line trains will run close to regular service elsewhere on the line, between Prince George’s Plaza and Branch Ave, every 6 to 8 minutes during rush hours.”

To help mitigate the inconvenience to the UMD community, the UMD Department of Transportation (DOT) is providing several services, including:

Running Special Metro Express Shuttle-UM Service from Prince George’s Plaza Metro Station

—Shuttle-UM buses will run between campus and Prince George’s Metro Station weekdays from 7:00am through 8:00pm. After leaving the Prince George’s Metro Station, the first Shuttle-UM stop is just across from Tawes Hall.
—To access Metro outside of these service hours, passengers will need to take Shuttle-UM Route 104 to the College Park Metro Station and use WMATA’s free SafeTrack shuttle buses.

Find more information from DOTS about the College Park Metro Station Closure


Capital Cab: (301) 322-8877
Yellow Cab Company: (202) 544-1212
Yes Taxi: (410) 500-6659


For downloadable campus maps, please visit http://www.transportation.umd.edu/maps.html