Paper Title

Foucauldian Theory, Sexual Identity, and Self-Speciation

Location

Room 220, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Start Date

April 2016

End Date

April 2016

Keywords

sexual identity, queer theory

Abstract

This paper analyses sexual identity in the United States, particularly focusing on sexualities that exist in the space between gay and straight. Drawing on participant observation and interviews conducted in Kentucky and Ohio, I discuss how sexualities such as pansexual, bisexual and asexual are constructed. I then draw on the work of Michel Foucault to illuminate recent changes in identity creation and cultural authority.

Foucault, in The History of Sexuality, discussed the role of first the church and then the medical-scientific community in producing sexual “truth.” Since the late 19th/early 20th century, this truth has been understood as a sexual binary of heterosexual and homosexual. Where then do non-binary sexualities fit in? Under what authority are these identities constructed?

I argue that the production of sexual identity discourse has undergone a profound change in the last few decades. While scientific and religious “authorities” are still integral in articulations of certain non-binary identities, other identities are created outside of these structures. Yet, this has not halted the creation of sexual “species” that Foucault talked about. This paper moves past Foucault’s authoritarian model in order to illuminate the current trends towards a pluralization of identities, social labeling, and sexual self-speciation.

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Apr 2nd, 9:00 AM Apr 2nd, 10:15 AM

Foucauldian Theory, Sexual Identity, and Self-Speciation

Room 220, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

This paper analyses sexual identity in the United States, particularly focusing on sexualities that exist in the space between gay and straight. Drawing on participant observation and interviews conducted in Kentucky and Ohio, I discuss how sexualities such as pansexual, bisexual and asexual are constructed. I then draw on the work of Michel Foucault to illuminate recent changes in identity creation and cultural authority.

Foucault, in The History of Sexuality, discussed the role of first the church and then the medical-scientific community in producing sexual “truth.” Since the late 19th/early 20th century, this truth has been understood as a sexual binary of heterosexual and homosexual. Where then do non-binary sexualities fit in? Under what authority are these identities constructed?

I argue that the production of sexual identity discourse has undergone a profound change in the last few decades. While scientific and religious “authorities” are still integral in articulations of certain non-binary identities, other identities are created outside of these structures. Yet, this has not halted the creation of sexual “species” that Foucault talked about. This paper moves past Foucault’s authoritarian model in order to illuminate the current trends towards a pluralization of identities, social labeling, and sexual self-speciation.