Why does homosexuality incite vitriolic rhetoric, hate and violence around the world, and does homophobia operate differently across social, political and economic terrains? Those are just some of the questions examined in the book Homophobias: Lust and Loathing across Time and Space, edited by York anthropology Professor David Murray.
Published by Duke University Press, Homophobias looks at these questions through critical interrogations and analysis of diverse sites where homophobic discourses are produced, including New York City, Australia, the Caribbean, Greece, India and Indonesia, as well as American Christian churches. The idea is to uncover the complex operational processes of homophobias and their intimate relationships to nationalism, sexism, racism, class and colonialism.
In the book’s preface, Murray notes that the term "homophobia" had moved into the global sphere. This got him thinking about the term’s meaning and the existence of homophobia. "Homophobia had gone global, and to be accused of being homophobic was to be accused of something more than just not liking homosexuals; furthermore, this accusation now carried potentially serious economic and political repercussions." He hopes the book will be the initial step in answering some of the questions the term homophobia raises.
Left: David Murray
Murray gathered researchers from a diverse range of ethnographic sites "to demonstrate how homophobia is a phenomenon that has no centre or origin, but more importantly, to examine how, or if, a transnational, comparative and ethnographically informed perspective might extend, challenge or change our understandings of homophobia."
In part one – "Displacing Homophobia" – some of the issues the contributors examine include homophobia in New York’s gay central, American Christian homophobia and homophobia as racism. In part two – "Transnational Homophobias" – they look at homosexual hate in Jamaica, political homophobia in Indonesia, as well as the Barbadian media. In examining these issues, Homophobias provides innovative analytical insights that expose the complex and intersecting cultural, political and economic forces contributing to the development of new forms of homophobia.
Murray, the director of the Graduate Program in Women’s Studies at York, is the author of Opacity: Gender, Sexuality, Race, and the “Problem” of Identity in Martinique (Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 2002).