Soderling, Stina

Job Placement: Instructor at MSU Denver's Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy
Committee: Ethel Brooks, Jasbir Puar, Nancy Hewitt, Temma Kaplan, Karen Tongson
Dissertation: "In the crevices of global capitalism"

Bio

Stina’s research and teaching interests include queer theory, environmental justice and ecofeminism, and critical perspectives on the prison system. More specifically, she has researched access to land among queer communities in the rural US South, and is currently asking how histories of land tenure, sexuality, and religion have been intertwined in the expansion of the US nation-state. As a teacher, Stina is particularly interested in feminist pedagogy and student involvement both in and outside of the classroom. She has taught Gender and Sexuality Studies at Rutgers and Mount Holyoke, and at Rikers Island through the Prison Education Initiative.

Abstract

“In the Crevices of Global Capitalism: Rural Queer Community Formation” is an interdisciplinary study of a cluster of intentional communities in Tennessee, referred to by residents as the “Gayborhood.” It asks what factors influence rural community-building, and how queer rurality is linked to larger historical, economic, and political patterns. As an interdisciplinary project, the dissertation draws on multiple methods, primarily ethnographic fieldwork, archival research, oral history, and media analysis. The project studies the Gayborhood not just from an LGBT history view, but more crucially from the perspective of the history of the land on which it is located. It argues that the creation of a queer community in rural Tennessee is predicated on several waves of displacement of other groups from the land, through an ongoing process of settler colonialism and capitalist exploitation. The dissertation makes four main interventions in the field of Queer Studies: First, it provides a reading of the concept of “labor of belonging.” The Gayborhood is created through constant labor, which is for the most part unremunerated, and not always acknowledged. This labor creates a multifaceted belonging: people belonging to a community, land belonging to people, and people belonging to the land. Second, the dissertation presents a theory of materiality and excess. The Gayborhood is in several ways built on waste: the utilizing of literal trash in building, discarded food in cooking, and also being located in a metaphorical post-industrial wasteland. Third, the project places rural queer intentional communities within the landscape of settler colonialism. The dissertation shows how the claiming of land by queer groups is predicated on the naturalization of white US citizenship, and the erasure of histories and presents of Native presence on the land. Fourth, the dissertation uses the concept of fermentation as metaphor and method. It poses that the process of fermentation, whereby microorganisms interact with feedstock materials in a process that combines decomposition and creation, can be used to explain how locations such as the Gayborhood become possible, and how they change.