Queer settler colonialism? Savannah J. Kilner, Pride and Property: Queer Settler Colonialism, Blackness, and the Landed Politics of Accountability, PhD dissertation, UCLA, 2021


Abstract: This dissertation plumbs the often-eclipsed connections between antiblackness, Indigenous dispossession, sexuality, and urban space. It contributes to an understanding of the racial and gendered sexual economy of settler neoliberalism by examining a variety of (queer) narrations, practices, and imaginaries of space, place, property, and land in San Francisco and Oakland, CA (Ramaytush Ohlone and Lisjan territories), from the late 1970s to the present. “Pride and Property” is not a history; rather, it constellates a series of moments that elucidate how the twin projects of Black surplus and Indigenous disappearance in the settler city create the conditions of possibility—and the grounds for—what has long been narrated as a “gay homeland” or “queer mecca.” While many queer spatial imaginaries constituting the Bay Area are entrenched in antiblackness and settler colonialism, still others practice, imagine, and bring forth anti-colonial, abolitionist futures. Mobilizing theoretical frameworks from critical ethnic studies and queer of color critique, Black feminist theories of slavery’s afterlife and the carceral state, and critical Indigenous studies, this project joins a growing literature that disrupts the ways scholarly formations are too often thought to be discrete. In utilizing archival methods and textual and visual analysis, it centers the role of narrative and representation both in naturalizing racialized dispossession and in providing alternate visions of futurity, belonging, and collectivity. The narrative of the “Great Gay Migration” of the late 1970s and early 1980s relied on the disavowal of settler colonialism and slavery amid the deepening polarizations of neoliberalism and growing carceral state. In the decades that follow, narratives of queer loss during the “dot-com booms” mobilize nostalgia for San Francisco’s progressivism in ways that disavow past and present modes of violence and dispossession. With a focus on property relations and attunement to the ways incorporative logics animate but also precede neoliberalism, this project culminates in a theorization of the distinct, yet relational “dispossession by inclusion” of Black and Indigenous peoples in Oakland, CA, and the distinct yet relational refusals—that precisely through reckoning with dispossessive histories of property—invoke other temporalities to craft a politics of accountability.

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