Like many academics, I came into the profession full of a righteous sense of purpose, sure that I would produce work that would, if not change the world, at least change a few minds. I think I have managed to do that all right but in the process I have changed my own mind several times about why we do what we do and to what end. Social change, per se, is such a hard mission and transformation almost never happens all at once. And so, my more modest mission has become to unlearn all that I have been taught or at least to unlearn my own training, in order to be open to new knowledge that comes from unexpected sources.
As academics receive training to think, write and teach, we also start thinking in ways that tend to reinvest in dominant ideologies and we often lose faith in subversive ones. We literally talk ourselves out of alternative political imaginaries by being so eloquent and persuasive about the totality of hegemony. And by the time our training is complete, many of us are more interested in gaining the recognition of our peers (by detailing the topography of the dominant) than in investing in the chimera of change and transformation. Michel Foucault's advocacy, therefore, for subjugated knowledge as ‘disqualified knowledge,’ knowledge that lacks legitimacy and that cannot be turned into a ‘science,’ becomes more and more attractive as universities become more invested in marketing knowledge, in knowledge markets and in knowledge for profit. When we hold something back from the rigid protocols of our disciplines, when we let loose on a thought, a whim, a fancy, we leave the realm of rigor altogether and begin an intellectual trip into the utopian, the field of the possible if not probable.
Like other scholars of the counter-hegemonic-thinkers like J.K. Gibson- Graham, James C. Scott, Dean Spade, Rod Ferguson, Jose E. Munoz come to mind-my desire to deconstruct dominant forms has waned over time and I find myself wanting to pay careful attention to the subversive, utopian and often queer and/or anarchist forms of cultural production and critique that emerge from the wreckage of casino capitalism and its attendant militarized forms. This conference, organized by Kerry H. Robinson and Cristyn Davies, Queer and Subjugated Knowledges: Generating Subversive Imaginaries was a real treat in that people rose so magnificently to the challenge of thinking outside of the frozen logics of us and them, power and the dispossessed, and for two days, we entered the realm of the queerly utopian to ponder the ‘what ifs’ of subversive imaginaries. It was truly an honor to engage and be engaged by such a magnificent group of thinkers, more importantly by such an amazing group of subversive scholars who have not yet abandoned the notion of ‘subversion’ to its deconstructive fate but are still willing to skip along with it wherever it may lead. I was lucky to skip a little while beside them and like them to head in a queerly utopian direction without ever needing actually to arrive.