I am pleased to report that my new article in Area, “Crossing Over into Territories of the Body: Urban Territories, Borders, and Lesbian-Queer Bodies in New York City,” is available via preview! As I am unable to pay the $3k-$5k fee to make this article open access (per the Wiley-Blackwell requirement to do so), you can (legally) download a pre-print version of the article for free by clicking here are on the image to the left. Enjoy! The abstract is also below. Many thanks to Sara H. Smith and her student colleagues who brought to life the AAG 2012 sessions on bodies, borders, and territories together and this following special issue.
2015. Gieseking, J. Crossing Over into Territories of the Body: Urban Territories, Borders, and Lesbian-Queer Bodies in New York City. Area. doi: 10.1111/area.12147.
Abstract: The geopolitical focus on territory as a fixed and cohesive nation-state simultaneously conceals the ways territories form and are operationalized at other scales. At the same time, the fleeting ability of minority bodies to make and retain cohesive, property-owned territories overlooks the limited agency that marginalized groups possess while they continually reproduce social territories as they navigate their everyday lives. Lesbians, gay, bisexuals, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) people began to develop urban territories—often dubbed neighborhoods or gay districts or villages—in which to find, build, and share a sense of safety and refuge. Yet all urban territories are not neighborhoods or districts because not all groups possess the power and capital to secure their boundaries through property ownership. In this paper I draw specifically upon the experiences of urban lesbians’ and queer women’s often overlapping public displays of affection (PDA) and harassment in New York City to demonstrate the shifting dimensions of territory in these women’s lives beyond the neighborhood/district model. I make use of two cases: the popular “gayborhood” of Greenwich Village in Manhattan and the border zone of Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. Using a queer-feminist theoretical approach and drawing on Elden’s geopolitical theorization of territorial “volume,” I argue that a broader meaning of territory is possible. When lesbian and queer women produce and then return to them or their former sites, they experience what feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa describes as “crossing over.” This approach highlights the role of the body for rethinking social and cultural territories and borders across scales. I suggest that territory plays a significant role at the urban scale as operationalized through the everyday movements of bodies.