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slant

Queer Nation

OVER COCKTAILS, at gallery openings, during street protests, and in darkened auditoriums, we have become accustomed to invoking what cultural critic Kobena Mercer has tellingly dubbed “the mantra” (say it with me now): “class-race-gender-sexuality. Class-race-gender-sexuality.” Mercer’s evocation of the nearly evangelical fervor with which so many of us name difference recognizes that our naming is at once perfunctory and guilt-ridden. But he also serves us a provocation, a call to disentangle overlapping systems of oppression. Careful social and cultural analysis, as literary theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick notes, attempts to reveal “how a variety of forms of oppression intertwine systemically with each other, and especially how the person who is disabled through one set of oppressions may by the same positioning be enabled through others.”

The persistent refiguration and absorption of the

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